Canada is eyeing the Philippines as one of its top development and trade partners. In a press luncheon held recently in Manila, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder said his government has short-listed the Philippines among a group of countries with which greater trade relations would be pursued. According to Reeder, the Philippines has been designated “as a country of focus for development cooperation”.
“What this means is a special focus on the Philippines. With 90 percent of all our bilateral development assistance going to 25 countries of focus and one of those is the Philippines. We anticipate that growth in our development programming in the country as a result of that decision,” the Canadian Ambassador said.
Bilateral trade between the Philippines and Canada stood at about $1.7 billion based on 2013 figures, up 15 percent year-on-year. The Philippines’ exports to Canada reached at least $1.1 billion.
mostly to measures aimed at improving the investment climate, sustainable growth, and economic opportunities to the poor.
This year, Canada aims to support Philippine initiatives in tourism, and in the small and medium enterprise sector, Reeder said.
Besides being a development funding priority, the Philippines is considered a priority emerging market among the 20 countries under Canada’s global markets action plan.
“What this means is that plan will focus our trade efforts in emerging markets where we see the greatest potential for Canadian exports.
And those are also markets like the Philippines that have strong economic growth and strong growth potential,” Reeder said. Canada is banking on the “Filipino diaspora” — or its more than 800,000 Filipino immigrants — to act as a bridge for Canadian goods and services to the Philippines.
In line with this, Canada will hold a number of trade missions to the Philippines in the coming months with particular focus on agriculture, defense and security, education, infrastructure, ICT (information communications technology), mining, as well as clean and sustainable technologies.
The Philippines however needs to improve its infrastructure, particularly its “air linkages”, and ease foreign investment restrictions under the Constitution to facilitate growth in trade relations, Reeder said.
“That kind of constitutional change would be welcome because that would facilitate longer term investments. If you look at the Philippines compared to other countries in Asean, you’re still below that tier of countries that generate more foreign direct investments,” Reeder said.