ASEAN and Canada have reaffirmed their commitment to stepping up efforts to propel their partnership to new heights.

The pledge came at the 20th ASEAN-Canada Dialogue, held on May 30 in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and attended by senior ASEAN officials including Kung Phoak, secretary of state at Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The ministry said in a June 1 social media post that the May 29-30 meeting reviewed the progress of the implementation of key priority areas and charted the future direction of ASEAN-Canada relations.

It said the conference also gave the attendees the opportunity to exchange views on regional and international issues of common concern and interest.

“ASEAN and Canada reaffirmed their commitment to amplify efforts to substantiate their longstanding relations with a view to taking the partnership to new heights,” said a May 30 ASEAN Secretariat press release.

“As country coordinator for ASEAN-Canada dialogue relations, Malaysia is committed to working with ASEAN member states and Canada in furthering the ASEAN-Canada partnership for the benefit of the people,” tweeted the Malaysian foreign ministry.

“Given the prominence of the partnership, Canada conveyed its unwavering support for ASEAN community-building efforts, assistance towards the region’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and commitment to ASEAN centrality through its active participation in ASEAN-led mechanisms,” added the release.

“The attendees welcomed the positive advances in the implementation of the ASEAN-Canada plan of action from 2021-25,” it noted.

ASEAN and Canada highlighted the importance of enhancing their partnership in the four key areas outlined in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) through concrete projects to support its implementation, in complementarity with Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), launched in November 2022.

“Both sides also emphasised the need to work closely to further enhance cooperation to combat transnational crime and counter terrorism, as well as promote maritime cooperation,” said the release.

“The meeting also encouraged greater collaboration on cybersecurity, connectivity and infrastructure, transport, trade and investment, women’s entrepreneurship and financial infrastructure,” it added.

The attendees also pledged cooperation to narrow the development gap in ASEAN and promote closer collaboration on a wide range of challenges.

To support its collaborative programmes with ASEAN, Canada highlighted the establishment of the ASEAN-Canada plan of action trust fund this year.

Amran Mohamed Zin, secretary-general of Malaysia’s foreign ministry, co-chaired the meeting, alongside Weldon Epp, Canadian assistant deputy minister for Asia-pacific of global affairs.

In attendance were ASEAN senior officials and their representatives, as well as representatives of the ASEAN Secretariat. Timor-Leste officials were present as observers.

“The ASEAN-Canada dialogue continues to be an essential mechanism in discussing strategic issues of common interests and concerns between ASEAN and Canada,” said the release.