Canada’s promised Indo-Pacific trade representative to be based in Jakarta: Mary Ng-صحيفة الصوت


Canada will open an export development office in Jakarta and has named an Indo-Pacific trade representative to help Canadian businesses enter new markets in the region, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday while in Indonesia.

“It’s really important for Canadian companies and exporters to grow in this region because when they do, that means good jobs back at home,” International Trade Minister Mary Ng told reporters in Jakarta.

That is where the new trade representative, Paul Thoppil, will be based, Ng said.

Trudeau arrived in Indonesia earlier Tuesday with a commitment to keep growing Canada’s relationship with the southeast Asian country.

One of his first events was an official visit with President Joko Widodo at his palace.

The two leaders spent their meeting discussing their growing ties, which Canada views as necessary to increasing its diplomatic and trade presence in the Indo-Pacific region. A trade representative was promised in the Indo-Pacific strategy the Liberal government released last November.

Trudeau, whose eldest son, Xavier, 15, joined him on the trip, announced there will be five coming trade missions to the Indo-Pacific region, including visits to Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

He also put money on the table: $10 million over five years to help prevent future biological threats like another pandemic, and $13 million toward sexual and reproductive health projects in Indonesia.

A warming relationship

Canada is also lending Indonesia over $100 million to build green infrastructure for clean water and solar power.

“The warm welcome and constructive conversations we are having here in Indonesia are a testament to Canada’s strong friendships and growing relationship with the Indo-Pacific region,” Trudeau said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Together, we’re creating good jobs, protecting peace and security and forging a better future for people on both sides of the Pacific.”

But the relationship with Indonesia wasn’t always warm — countries in the region often viewed Canada’s presence as too episodic.

“Canada is investing extraordinary resources, people, time, money to build our presence in the region,” Ian McKay, Canada’s special envoy for the Indo-Pacific, said Tuesday in Jakarta.

“That is exactly what leaders like President Widodo want, and that is represented by the warm relationship he’s developed with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” said McKay, who is also Canada’s ambassador to Japan.

Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy

The leaders relationship was highlighted during Trudeau’s official visit to the Merdeka Palace.

He presented Widodo with a Team Canada Basketball jersey bearing his nickname, Jokowi, and the number seven — Widodo is the seventh president of Indonesia.

Days earlier, Team Canada played in Jakarta, where the men’s basketball team advanced to the Olympics after beating Spain.

Trudeau thanked Widodo for the warmth the team received, saying it’s a wonderful example of the two countries’ deepened relationship.

“It’s a normal thing to do to search out better and bigger markets,” McKay said, noting the Indo-Pacific strategy is Canada’s biggest foreign policy shift in decades.

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy and a G20 member with significant potential for economic growth.

In 2022, Indonesia was Canada’s 19th-largest trading partner worldwide and third-largest among southeast Asian countries, with two-way merchandise trade totalling $6.24 billion.

On Wednesday, Trudeau will deliver remarks at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as the 10-nation bloc prepares to make Canada its latest strategic partner, symbolizing the trade progress Canada has made with ASEAN.

Merchandise trade with the countries in the bloc grew by nearly 29 per cent last year, with agribusiness being one of the largest economic sectors.

Trudeau is also expected to hold talks at the summit with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar bin Ibrahim, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.


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