Canadian traders see growth opportunities in PH

By Louella D. Desiderio, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 23 2014 07:50 AM | Updated as of Jul 23 2014 03:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Canadian government sees opportunities to grow its trade and investment ties with the Philippines, but the latter has to provide a secure, stable and predictable environment for Canadian businesses to invest in the country.

Speaking at the joint meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Makati Business Club and Management Association of the Philippines yesterday, Canada’s Minister of International Trade Ed Fast said the Canadian government wants to strengthen its trade and investment links with the Philippines.

“We recognize that the Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in the region and presents tremendous opportunities for Canadians who are bold enough to recognize opportunities here on the ground,” he said.

He noted that there is still potential to grow the bilateral trade of the two countries valued at $1.7 billion last year, as well as investments being made by Canadian firms here.

Given the country’s mineral resources, mining is an area where Canada sees investment opportunities.

“We would love to increase partnerships with Filipino companies in the mining sector,” Fast said.

He noted that certain key conditions need to be present to attract more mining investments from Canada here.

“We have tremendous expertise and Canadians are looking to the Philippines as a possible investment destination. And what they have suggested is for the mining regime that is eventually adopted by the Philippine government is one that protects investors, has a fair tax regime and that takes into account the significant risks involved in mining, the significant costs that mining firms incur as they explore and move towards production,” he said.

He said Canadian mining firms are looking for a secure, stable and predictable business environment.

“We have encouraged the Philippine government that be the case because if right signals are set through future legislations on mining, there will be significantly increased investments in mining,” he said.

Apart from mining, the Canadian government also sees opportunities for trade and investments in the areas of agribusiness, infrastructure as well as healthcare technology here.

But while there are opportunities, there are also challenges which need to be addressed in order to encourage more Canadian firms to do business here.

Fast said the Canadian government intends to work with the Philippines to address hurdles for business such as infrastructure gaps as well as challenges in the regulatory and trade environment.

In line with the aim of strengthening the two parties’ economic ties, the Philippines has also been included in the list of Canada’s 25 countries of focus which would receive 90 percent of Canadian funding assistance to the world.

“This is a clear signal that Canada wants to engage in your country,” Fast said.

Apart from the P10 million worth of assistance extended to assist those affected by Typhoon Glenda, Fast said the Canadian government is also providing $10 million through the International Finance Corp. for an agribusiness development project that aims to deliver financial products and services as well as facilitate partnerships between government and the private sector to help farmers grow their businesses.

As for the Philippines’ interest to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, he said Canada welcomes any interest to participate in the deal on the condition that the interested parties share the high level of ambition the current 12 members have in terms of trade liberalization and removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers.