Southeast Asia is a dynamic and remarkably diverse region, experiencing extraordinary growth and presenting exceptional investment opportunities. In recent years, Canada has increased its ties to this region, particularly in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. The 10-country grouping of ASEAN (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), with a population of more than 670 million people (2020) is on its way to expanding its integrated market and production base. ASEAN launched its Economic Community (the AEC) in 2015. As a group, these nations represent Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner with bilateral merchandise trade exceeding C$27.1-billion at year-end 2019. Reaching C$17.5-billion at year-end 2019, Canadian direct investment in this region has surpassed our combined investments in China and India. Exploratory discussions for a possible Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement were launched in 2017 and are ongoing.
Blakes is retained by a range of companies from Southeast Asia for specific legal advice regarding their Canadian transactions, optimizing their business opportunities and limiting their risk exposure. Many Southeast Asian companies know that they can rely on our lawyers for strategic business advice and guidance through Canada’s legislative and regulatory framework, including foreign investment regulations and disclosure requirements. Companies from the region engage Blakes for our unrivalled expertise in Canada-Southeast Asia M&A, joint ventures, corporate finance, banking, competition, antitrust and foreign investment, taxation, and real estate matters. They also rely on our leading industry practices, including energy, natural resources and mining, oil and gas, environmental, financial services, infrastructure, manufacturing, and technology, for critical advice.
Working closely with lawyers at preeminent Asian law firms, we also assist our Canadian and international clients with their business relationships and investments in Southeast Asia. Many Canadian companies have been operating in the region for more than 30 years, in manufacturing, oil and gas, technology, mining and agricultural industries, and significant growth opportunities continue to exist.