Canada, Philippines to talk about free trade talks

Canada and the Philippines have launched “exploratory discussions” toward a possible free trade agreement, from which Canadian livestock and grain producers could expect to gain.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino announced the discussions Friday in Ottawa during Aquino’s state visit, which ends Saturday.

A Canada-Philippines free trade agreement “would strengthen economic ties and give Canadian businesses access to one of the most dynamic and growing marketplaces in Asia,” the government said in a release.

Canada’s total exports to the Philippines in 2014 were valued at $569.7 million, of which 12.75 per cent was in meat and edible offal, 6.34 per cent in fertilizers, 5.32 per cent in cereals and 3.3 per cent in assorted agrifoods such as eggs, dairy products and honey.

By comparison, Canada imported about $1.24 billion in products from the Philippines last year, mainly in electrical equipment, mechanical appliances and other manufactured goods. About 3.7 per cent of Canada’s imports were in “fats, oils and waxes,” while 2.6 per cent were in fruits and nuts and 2.38 per cent in prepared vegetables, fruits and other foods.

A trade deal with the Philippines, the government added, “would also provide a gateway to the dynamic and high-growth Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region for Canadian exporters.”

ASEAN is an economic development bloc of 10 nations in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Canada is already in talks for a bilateral free trade deal with Singapore and announced plans in 2012 for exploratory talks with Thailand. Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Vietnam are also parties to talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), along with Canada, the U.S., Japan, Australia and others.

Canada and the Philippines on Friday also announced discussions toward upgrading their 1996 Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), which “would give Canadian and Filipino investors greater confidence when doing business,” the government said.

Canada on Friday also granted the Philippines access to the Canadian Trade and Development Facility. The funding facility, set up last summer with a budget of up to $25 million per year, is meant to help developing countries negotiate, set up and benefit from trade and investment deals with Canada and other countries. — Network


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