Bridge to Asia

In 2016 Canada imported nearly $120 billion in merchandise and services from the countries of the Asia-Pacific but exported less than $52 billion to the region.


Our most serious trade deficits are with China, Korea and Japan.  But there is now a historic opportunity to increase Canadian exports to all Asian markets across all sectors – from energy and agriculture to mining, materials, professional and technology services, finance, education, tourism, advanced engineering and manufacturing.


In the Asia-Pacific region, Canada currently has free trade agreements with the US; the four members of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru); Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama in Central America; and Korea.


It is vital that we complete the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which includes Japan, Australia and New Zealand (among others), as well as free trade negotiations with India.  Canada should also pursue free trade with ASEAN and Taiwan, as well as improved market access with China.


Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service was first established in 1894 and its first trade office was opened in Australia the following year by a Conservative government following a mission to that country by future prime minister Mackenzie Bowell.  Yet Canada’s diplomatic and trade promotion footprint in Asia has never matched its potential.


It is now vital that we set a new level of ambition for our relations with Asia – building a bridge of cooperation spanning civilian aviation, trade, the arts and culture, investment, science, research, intellectual property, shipping, ports, energy, environment, oceans, public administration, international development, conflict prevention, media, tourism and education.


As Prime Minister, I would:


(i)             set a target of $200 billion in exports to Asia by 2050;


(ii)           complete TPP, free trade negotiations with India and other democracies;


(iii)          complete all viable oil and gas pipelines to the west and east coasts to be able to supply Canadian needs, as well as export markets in South and East Asia;


(iv)          seek strategic agri-food partnerships with all major Asian markets;


(v)           together with all relevant Canadian stakeholders, align Canadian effort and investment with long-term growth prospects for Canadian exports in agri-food, ebergy, natural resources, engineering and infrastructure, professional services, finance, information and communications technology, deep tech, robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing;


(vi)          dramatically enhance the quality and scale of Canadian representation throughout Asia, including by recruiting experienced business executives to play roles in our missions abroad;


(vii)        expand air, education, research and tourism links throughout Asia, as a priority;


(viii)       launch strategic military partnerships with Australia, India and Japan;


(ix)          make available a naval task force to support international peace and security in the Pacific and Indian Oceans;


(x)           take an active part in all principal military missions of our allies in Asia authorized by international law;


(xi)          offer Canada’s good offices to reinforce reconciliation in Sri Lanka; seek a long-term settlement between Afghanistan and Pakistan; uphold international law in the South China Sea; and to raise human rights issues of consequence;


(xii)        build on Canada’s reputation as a welcoming destination for Asian capital, companies, families and professionals seeking long-term stability and a superior, competitive business environment.

Alexandra Day