Minister of International Trade Mary Ng participates in a news conference on the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement in Ottawa, on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ottawa launches public consultations on free trade deal with Indonesia

The federal government is launching public consultations on the merits of a possible free trade deal with Indonesia, International Trade Minister Mary Ng announced Monday.

The proposed trade deal, dubbed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), is expected to boost Canada’s nearly $4-billion trade with Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economy and the world’s fourth-most-populous country, Ng said.

“Canada is committed to diversifying trade across the Asia-Pacific region to create new trade and investment opportunities for all Canadians,” Ng said in a statement. “Deepening trade ties with Indonesia would benefit Canadian businesses of all sizes and lead to economic growth and prosperity for years to come.”

Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia, with a GDP of $1.4 trillion and is Canada’s third-largest trading partner in the region. Canadian companies had invested more than $3.8 billion in Indonesia at the end of 2019.

Canadians across the country and abroad are encouraged to participate in the online public consultation process, which will take place until Feb. 23, 2021, Ng said.

“We invite traditionally under-represented groups, such as women, small businesses, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and others community, and Indigenous peoples to take part in this consultation process.” Ng said. 

In 2018, Canada signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with ten other countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Canada also has free trade agreements with the United States and Mexico, the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which came to replace NAFTA and is the most important trading relationship for Ottawa, and the The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

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