(Tokyo) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on his way to Southeast Asia on Friday for a series of summits and meetings aimed at strengthening Canada’s presence in the “Indo-Pacific region”.
The Prime Minister’s Office says its main goals include the economy, such as inflation and supply chain issues, support for Ukraine and the environment.
Mr. Trudeau will first attend the summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in the Cambodian capital. He was expected to arrive in Phnom Penh shortly after midnight Saturday, Ottawa time. The Prime Minister will take part on Saturday, along with other heads of state and government, in an hour-long commemoration of Canada’s 45 years of ties with the ASEAN bloc. This bloc of 10 countries, which is experiencing one of the fastest growing economies on the planet, began formal trade negotiations with Canada last year.
Wayne Farmer, director of the Canada-ASEAN Business Council, said the start of negotiations gives Ottawa an advantage as many countries try to forge closer ties in the region. “Having us here is good and important, and it sends a signal that we care about the area,” Farmer said.
But it has not always been so. After a speech this week unveiling part of the next “Indo-Pacific strategy”, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly admitted that diplomats had told her that “Canada was not always a reliable partner” in the region. “Sometimes we show up, then we leave, and then we come back. It can’t go like this, ”admitted Mme Joly during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday.
At the ASEAN summit, Mr. Trudeau is due to attend a discussion on the role of women in peace and security. He will also likely visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, in what was once a prison during the Khmer Rouge regime.
G20 Summit in Bali
On Monday, the prime minister is due to travel to Indonesia for the G20 summit in Bali. He is among wealthy country leaders who are urging their peers in developing countries to further isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.
“It is clear that his barbaric war is jeopardizing our pandemic economic recovery, amplifying the global inflation crisis and deepening the global food and energy crisis,” Trudeau wrote in a publication for the G20 research group at the University of Toronto.
Other G20 countries, such as India, China, Cambodia and Thailand, abstained from voting on UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia.
Indonesia, host of the G20 summit this year, stressed the importance of focusing on consensus rather than division. He asked leaders to focus on strengthening health systems, food security and energy supply.
John Kirton, who heads the G20 research group, said it’s hard to separate these issues from the strain the Russian invasion is putting on global systems. As the West pushes to isolate Russia and developing countries seek help to recover from the pandemic, Kirton believes this G20 summit will face serious challenges.
President Putin will not attend the Bali summit, which also provides for the first meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping as heads of state.
After the G20, Mr. Trudeau will make a brief stopover in Bangkok, Thailand, to meet with leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. This APEC summit is focused on breaking down trade barriers on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, as well as climate change.
Kirton believes other countries will pressure the United States to expand recent policies that offer tax credits for the purchase of North American-made electric vehicles — a move that benefits Canada , but not in Japan or South Korea.
Mr. Trudeau will then travel to Tunisia for the Francophonie Summit, an organization that includes several African countries. The Premier of Quebec, François Legault, will take part in this summit along with his new Minister of International Relations, Martine Biron.
Prime Minister Trudeau will participate in roundtables on digital connectivity as well as the role of women and youth. But politics could eclipse the agenda of this 18e summit, in Djerba on November 19-20, after Canada raised concerns about the Tunisian government’s anti-democratic measures.
Just a few weeks ago, Mr Trudeau said he was not sure whether to attend the summit and he did not deny reports that Canada had pushed for him to be transferred to a other country.
Each summit will involve bilateral meetings between Mr. Trudeau and world leaders. His cabinet confirmed the Prime Minister’s intention to meet for the first time in person at the G20 two of his new counterparts, the Briton Rishi Sunak and the Italian Giorgia Meloni.
Minister of International Trade and Export Promotion Mary Ng is accompanying Mr. Trudeau for the Southeast Asia portion of this 10-day official trip. Minister Joly, on the other hand, will skip the APEC meeting in Thailand to prepare the ground for Mr. Trudeau’s visit to the Francophonie summit.