Canada takes a work trip to Vietnam

Canada is hoping to take its relationship with Vietnam to the next level. 

What happened: Canada sent its largest-ever delegation — including the trade minister and hundreds of Canadian business people — to set up some coffee chats in Vietnam this week as it looks to strengthen trade ties with one of the fastest-growing Southeast Asian economies.

Why it’s happening: Vietnam is Canada’s biggest trade partner in Southeast Asia, and as Ottawa and other Western governments work to reduce their reliance on China, Vietnam has become a go-to alternative for manufacturing imports like electronics and machinery.

Why it matters: Canada imported almost US$10 billion worth of goods from Vietnam last year, but with a US$8.5 billion trade surplus, Vietnam is doing a lot more selling than buying. By forging closer ties, the feds and business owners are hoping the one-sided relationship will balance out.

  • Experts say as Vietnam’s manufacturing sector attracts more Western companies, demand for energy will grow, something Canadian producers could provide.

Big picture: Cozying up to Vietnam is part of Canada’s larger Indo-Pacific trade strategy, a region that is critical to Canada’s economic growth but has become increasingly tricky to navigate as geopolitical tensions with both China and India have escalated.—LA