Harper heads to APEC summit in Bali preaching trade amid Asian economic worries

OTTAWA – Stephen Harper and some of his senior ministers are headed to Southeast Asia this morning in an effort to drum up support for trade and foreign investment at a leaders’ summit in Bali.

Along the way, the prime minister will stop in Kuala Lumpur, Harper’s first visit to Malaysia since taking office in January 2006.

It’s all part of a continuing Conservative government push into Southeast Asia that got off to a slow start and has since been hobbled by mixed messages.

Harper says the week-long trip to Malaysia and Indonesia will advance regional trade and promote Canada as a preferred business partner.

However, some experts say Canada is sending the wrong signals on investment by state-owned enterprises, which is a factor in direct foreign investment plummeting by more than 90 per cent this year compared to last.

Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas and China’s CNOOC were the last state-owned companies to buy majority stakes in the Alberta oil patch before the Conservatives changed the rules last year, essentially stopping majority ownership bids by such foreign enterprises.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.