Conversations with Canadian Leaders: Canada as an Asia Pacific Nation

What We Learned

Through our interviews and discussions, Canadian leaders candidly shared their perspectives on Canada-Asia relations, and we have gained valuable insights on how Canada could engage more effectively in the Asia Pacific region. While it is important to recognize that the Asia Pacific region is made up of diverse cultures and contexts, leaders across sectors identified some key strategies and considerations to improve bilateral relations and strengthen Canada’s role across the region.

  • Adopt a new approach: Although it is important not to ignore challenging issues, greater progress can be achieved through relationship building rather than lecturing other governments.
  • Strengthen leadership at all levels: Instead of trying to compete in all areas, Canada must identify its strengths and weaknesses, relative to the players in the region, in order to effectively prioritize opportunities and coordinate approaches across sectors for better outcomes. 
  • Build trust in relationships: As cooperation requires mutual understanding and common interests, Canadian organizations across sectors need to invest a significant amount of time in building trust and credibility with potential partners in the region.
  • Establish local networks: Given the highly competitive environment and the large population size of many Asian countries, Canadian organizations must establish points of contact and expand their networks wherever they see opportunities for growth or strategic collaboration.
  • Diversify partnerships across the region: While China and India are emerging economies with tremendous opportunities for Canada, it is important to maintain established relationships and explore partnerships with other smaller Asian economies.
  • Engage the public and key stakeholders: Public support is needed to encourage the type of political leadership and national coordination required to strengthen Canada’s role in the Asia Pacific region.