Vietnam urges ASEAN, Canada to boost cooperation in priority areas hinh anh 1National flags of ASEAN countries. (Source:
Ottawa (VNA) – ASEAN and Canada need to promote cooperation in priority fields such as maritime and cyber security, fighting human trafficking, coping with climate change and ensuring water security, especially the Mekong River lower reaches, a Vietnamese official has said.

Head of the Vietnam delegation Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung made the suggestion at the 14th ASEAN-Canada Dialogue in Ottawa, Canada, on May 7-8.

He proposed that the two sides continue utilising effectively existing mechanisms such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN-Canada consultative meeting, urging Canada to bring into full play its role as an important member of major groupings such as the G7 and the G20, and back the ASEAN in building a rule-based regional security structure.

The delegate called for promoting education cooperation through increasing the number of Canada’s scholarships for Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, and closer links between ASEAN and Canada in tourism and people-to-people exchange, along with joint efforts to narrow development gap.

He also asked Canada to encourage its firms to invest in infrastructure projects, development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-up activities in ASEAN member nations.

The Vietnamese diplomat stated that Vietnam always attaches importance to ASEAN-Canada relations and hopes the two sides will have more practical activities to fully tap the cooperation potential

He shared his concern about the complicated developments in the East Sea and underlined Vietnam’s consistent stance while applauding Canada’s stance in its recent statements related to the East Sea issue.

The dialogue examined the cooperation between the two sides in the framework of the Action Plan in 2016-2020, and discussed preparations for activities to mark the 40th anniversary of the Canada-ASEAN partnership.

Head of the Canadian delegation Donald Bobiash affirmed ASEAN is an important partner of his country in the Asia Pacific region, and the two sides shared interests and visions in many aspects.

Canada wishes to boost trade liberalisation and connection between the two sides, including considering the possibility to form an ASEAN-Canada free trade agreement, he said.

Bobiash stressed as one of founding members of the ARF, Canada proposed many initiatives and projects to support ASEAN member nations in improving their capacity to fight terrorism and transnational crimes, and made active contributions to maintaining regional peace and security.

He affirmed that his country supports related parties to continue with trust building measures and solve East Sea-related disputes by peaceful measures in line with international law, especially the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982), while strictly implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and working towards a framework for a Code of Conduct (COC).

Canada is concerned about maritime security and acts that destroy the maritime environment, especially coral reefs, he said.

Canadian Senator Peter Harder and Deputy Foreign Minister Ian Shugart, in their speeches, spoke highly of the role played by ASEAN and highlighted the importance of Canada-ASEAN links.

They affirmed that Canada is willing to participate deeper in regional cooperation mechanisms led by the grouping, and hopes to soon become a member of the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting Plus (ADMM ), he said.

ASEAN member nations appreciated Canada’s commitment to the Southeast Asian region and hoped Canada will continue supporting the bloc in building the ASEAN Community, and promoting the bloc’s central role in shaping the regional restructure.

The group’s member nation proposed measures to further boost the partnership with Canada in fighting terrorism, extreme violence, drug trafficking, piracy and cyber attack, and in adapting to climate change.  

They also put forward ideas for bilateral cooperation in developing SMEs and implementing the third phase of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC).

The ASEAN-Canada dialogue relationship was established in 1977, and the ties have been developed across fields over the last four decades.

ASEAN is now the sixth largest trade partner of Canada, and member countries of the bloc have poured over 1 billion CAD (729.5 million USD) in the North America country.-VNA