10/05/2013 06:34 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Harper Meets With Business Leaders In Malaysia

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — a country that has about $3 billion in trade with Canada annually — for  meetings with business and government leaders ahead of this year's APEC summit in Bali.

Harper often meets with business leaders on his trips abroad, and his stop in Kuala Lumpur this weekend was no different.

"This is very much a growing economic relationship with a good presence of Canadian businesses and Malaysian businesses in each other's countries," Harper said after arriving late Friday.

On Saturday, he sat down with executives from the oil and gas sector, such as Talisman and Petronas Progress Energy. Vice-presidents from Blackberry and Bombardier were also in the meeting.

Marc Parent, chief executive officer of Montreal-based CAE Inc., is in Kuala Lumpur with Harper. Parent heads a company that trains all of the pilots of the discount carrier Air Asia, the fastest-growing airline in the region.

"Aerospace as a whole throughout the world will grow about four or five per cent in the next 20 years, but that will probably double in this region of the world just because of the growth of the middle class and the fact that airlines are making it affordable to travel," Parent said.

The Harper government has been criticized for coming to Asia late to drum up business, but Parent said all that matters is that the prime minister is here now.

Harper meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Sunday, after Razak wraps up much anticipated talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two Asian countries are major trading partners, and on Friday, they agreed to work on deals that could nearly triple the flow of trade between by 2017.

Taiwan's envoy to the annual leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is expected to hold face-to-face talks with the Chinese president in Bali on Sunday, sources said Friday.

Economic growth in Southeast Asia is slowing, but it's still expected to surpass many other areas of the world.

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