Myanmar to play an active role in negotiating ASEAN-Canada free trade agreement

The preparatory meeting for the ASEAN-Canada free trade agreement negotiation meeting was held yesterday in Nay Pyi Taw. At the meeting, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U Aung Naing Oo said it is necessary to prepare for the benefits of not only the ASEAN but also Myanmar and to assign only experts who fully understand the international agreements and the laws of the country as negotiations on the ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement will soon begin.
The Union Minister said that the meeting is held for the organizations to prepare in advance and for Myanmar to play an active role in negotiating the trade agreement to be launched in 2022. The Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is expected to be one of the high-quality FTA agreements with ASEAN.
He highlighted the need to prioritize negotiations over market access for the country’s exports and access to high quality and responsible investment. In addition, necessary measures to be taken to protect the country’s manufacturing and service sectors are required to negotiate under the existing laws of the country and the international agreements signed by the country.
As the negotiations are scheduled to be finalized within two years, starting at the beginning of 2022, policy issues, requirements for coordination, technical supports need to be submitted in a timely manner, and his ministry will provide assistance as necessary, the Union minister continued.
Afterwards, officials explained areas included in the reference document negotiated for the ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement and the situations of the two sides to reach an agreement on the document; establishment of working groups for the negotiation of the agreement and the agenda of the negotiations to be held in 2022; the plans to be implemented by the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations on behalf of Myanmar. The meeting also discussed the preparations for the negotiation of the trade agreement and the negotiation plan.
Canada joined ASEAN in 1977 as a dialogue partner. Studies on the establishment of the ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Area have been underway since 2016, and the 10th ASEAN-Canada Economic Ministers’ Meeting in November 2021 announced the formal negotiations on the ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement.
Canada is the eighth-largest economy in the world and sixth in ASEAN. ASEAN is Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner. Canada is the 15th-largest trading partner of ASEAN. In 2020, the value of ASEAN-Canada trade reached US$20 billion. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows from Canada to ASEAN countries amounted to US$12.5 billion, while ASEAN inflows into Canada amounted to US$1.2 billion.
Canada ranks 26th among Myanmar’s current trading partners. Bilateral trade reached US$130 million in the 2019-2020 financial year. Canada currently has US$158 million in investment in Myanmar, as the 16th among the countries investing in Myanmar.
According to a study by the ASEAN-East Asia Economic Research Group, the Canadian World Affairs Group and international economists, the signing of the ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement will make ASEAN countries, including Myanmar, more cooperative in trade and investment. — MNA

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