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Some caution Asian engagement is as much about building capacity in Canada as selling goods abroad.

After years of downplaying its interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks, Canada recently said it wants to join the club, a move being seen by analysts as a watershed moment in the Harper government's approach to Asian markets.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the government's interest in the TPP on Nov. 13 while in Hawaii for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum.

"We are indicating today our formal intention, we're expressing formally our willingness to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership," Mr. Harper was reported as saying. "We will...

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