Canadian chamber president Julian H. Payne said that as the FTA is crucial to ensure the country’s position as a globally competitive, highly lucrative investment destination, they are pushing for the realization of the proposed agreement.
“We are now in the process of gathering our members every meeting to discuss the background and inputs regarding the FTA. Primarily our concern is how we can come up with a specific scope of the agreement so we will have clearer vision and direction towards this thrust,” he said.
The FTA was first eyed when former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the launching of the possibility of exploring the FTA after the three-day state visit to Canada of President Benigno Aquino III last May 7-9.
“The exploratory discussion of the proposed FTA is still yet to start depending if the incumbent Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will still consider idea,” Payne said adding that Trudeau took the position by last quarter of this year. But Payne is positive that the agreement will go ahead as Canada always welcome trade agreements.
“I anticipate that this will go ahead but we must put it into account that both governments should remain to be interested with the proposed FTA especially now that Philippines will also have upcoming regular presidential elections, it really depends,” he said.
If the Philippines-Canada FTA will push through, it will be considered as a unique trade agreement between the both governments.
“There will be no overlapping, Philippines is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) while Canada is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), if the FTA will be realized it will open windows for both countries to other bigger markets,” Payne said.
The comprehensive FTA, once approved, will be the Canada’s first trade agreement with a country from the Southeast Asia.
At present Ayala land and Banco De Oro (BDO) have presence of business in Canada which could be considered as signs of growing partnership between the two trade-oriented countries.
Official Canadian data showed that bilateral trade grew by an annual 2.5 percent to C$1.8 billion in 2014. Canadian merchandise imports from the Philippines came in at around C$1.24 billion, while a total of C$569.5 million is recorded for Canadian exports to the Philippines.
The Philippines has FTAs with China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Australia and other Asian countries under the Brunei Darussalam,Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area.