Innovation Nation: Why Canada should engage the Indo-Pacific as it pushes its innovation agenda

The Indo-Pacific was conceived by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a 2007 speech, where he described the idea as "a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity."Illustration by Brice Hall/National Post

Canada has a rich history of innovation, but in the next few decades, powerful technological forces will transform the global economy. Large multinational companies have jumped out to a headstart in the race to succeed, and Canada runs the risk of falling behind. At stake is nothing less than our prosperity and economic well-being. The Financial Post set out explore what is needed for businesses to flourish and grow. You can find all of our coverage here.


As a country bordering three of the world’s five major oceans, Canada naturally adopts a global outlook in its foreign and economic policies, but it has yet to incorporate recent changes in the trans-Pacific neighbourhood, from the Asia-Pacific to the Indo-Pacific. It is time for Canada to reset its vision.

The Indo-Pacific was conceived by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a 2007 speech, where he described the idea as “a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity.” The geopolitical concept of deep interlinkage between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean has gained much currency in the past decade, with proponents such as Japan, the United States, Australia and India believing the littoral nations should avoid using force or coercion to resolve their disputes. They also favour regional connectivity projects as long as these are transparent, sustainable — both environmentally and financially — and respectful of national sovereignty.

The 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are well on their way to adopting the Indo-Pacific vision, under a determined diplomatic initiative launched by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. A recent visit to the region confirmed to me that even Indo-Pacific skeptics such as the Philippines and Cambodia are now inclined to be more responsive. Acceptance by Canada, an Indo-Pacific nation, will thus be in line with the changing times and should also improve the prospects of achieving its twin agendas of having free-trade agreements with both the ASEAN and India.

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