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Thailand and Canada to Talk Free Trade

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Harper and the Thai prime minister are expected to announce the launch of a study to see whether a free-trade arrangement between the two countries is feasible.


CHIANGRAI TIMES – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is heading to Asia for the second time in as many months, underscoring his government’s increasing focus on diversifying exports to the fast-growing region.

He will leave Thursday for a four-day visit Thailand, Japan and South Korea, according to China’s Xinhua news agency on Wednesday.

Harper arrives in Bangkok on Thursday on the first leg of the tour, marking his first visit to Thailand since he became Prime Minister in 2006.

He is expected to discuss trade and investment as well as cooperation to combat human smuggling and terrorism with Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra.

Then, Harper heads to Japan where he will discuss issues including the global economy, bilateral commercial ties and regional security with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

He ends the tour in South Korea where he will attend the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit.

Harper’s entourage includes Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz, and Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda, as well as business leaders and security experts.

“Canada continues to deepen its strategic partnerships in Asia in order to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians,” the Prime Minister said in a statement.

“With the global economic recovery remaining fragile, I look forward to exploring new ways of strengthening our relationship with Thailand and Japan.”

He added that Canada will continue to play an important role in international efforts to address nuclear security as the Seoul Summit will provide the opportunity to report on progress achieved over the last two years and to work with partners to enhance nuclear security at home and abroad.

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