The Canadian Ministry of International Trade has stated the country will further advance ties with ASEAN member nations as the regional bloc is one of the important strategic pillars of Canada.

The ministry made the announcement in a statement released on August 8 to congratulate the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the occasion of its 46 founding anniversary.

Meeting with the media on August 8, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast said relations between Canada and ASEAN member countries have expanded considerably over the past three and a half decades, adding that he wants the partnership to grow even stronger through deeper trade and investment ties.

Fast informed that he will attend the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting in Brunei on August 20-21 and a regional conference on investment and trade on the fringe of the meeting.

The same day, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said Ottawa has committed to additional funding for ASEAN-Canada cooperation initiatives, including three development schemes.

Canada will also continue to support the goal of an ASEAN Community in 2015 and increase Canada-ASEAN engagement to its fullest potential.

ASEAN comprises 10 Southeast Asian countries—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA