She made the comment while speaking about the government’s new Indo-Pacific strategy in Montreal on Monday.
“We want to be as close to Korea and to Japan as we are to Germany, France and Great Britain,” Joly said, speaking in French.
“That’s our objective.”
The government unveiled its Indo-Pacific strategy late last month, laying out its plans to diversify its friendships — and trading partners — in the region, particularly as China continues to play an “increasingly disruptive” role on the world stage, Joly said.
The strategy includes $2.3 billion in funding in the region over the next five years, all while strengthening security and intelligence networks, deploying additional military assets, investing in cybersecurity infrastructure and diversifying Canada’s trade opportunities in the region.
The strategy plans to grow economic ties with India and in southeast Asia, while further strengthening existing ties with Japan and South Korea — a pillar of the plan that Joly emphasized on Monday.
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Canada’s close ties with the U.K., France and Germany are longstanding and worth billions in trade.
Germany is Canada’s largest merchandise export market in the E.U., and its fifth-largest trading partner globally, according to the Global Affairs Canada website. France, meanwhile, is a “top-ten trading partner” for Canada, and all three countries sit at the G7 table together.
Canada and the U.K. have deeply intertwined commercial relationship along with centuries of government and people ties, as is the case with France and Canada as well. The U.K. is Canada’s fourth largest commercial partner and is its third largest source of foreign direct investment.
Beyond their deep economic ties, the two countries have a deep-rooted security and defence relationship — one that includes intelligence-sharing through the Five Eyes alliance, as well as military and law enforcement cooperation.
Speaking Monday, Joly did not expand on what elements of Canada’s relationship with France, Germany and the United Kingdom that she was hoping to carry over into a friendship with Japan and South Korea.
However, she confirmed that Canada must expand its security presence in the region.
“If you take the West Coast, from British Columbia, and look west — it’s really our region. They’re our neighbours,” she said.
“We have to do more.”
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