MANILA - President Aquino leaves today for the United States to begin his three-day North American trip that will culminate in a state visit to Canada.
The President departs at 8 a.m. on a chartered Philippines Airlines flight to Chicago for a one-day working visit. From Chicago, the President will proceed to Canada where he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will witness the signing of bilateral agreements on labor cooperation, development assistance and infrastructure development.
Canada is home to about 700,000 Filipino workers. Aquino will have stops in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto before returning to Manila on May 9.
In Chicago, the President is set to meet with potential investors and with the Filipino community.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte earlier said Aquino’s visit to Canada was upon the invitation of Canadian Governor General David Johnston.
“Canada and the Philippines enjoy a close friendship based on shared democratic values and strong people-to-people ties. I look forward to meeting with President Aquino to further strengthen the bonds between our two countries, including in the areas of trade, investment, development and security, benefiting the citizens of both nations,” Harper said in a statement posted on his website.
He said Aquino’s visit would provide an opportunity for both leaders to reaffirm the strong relationship between Canada and the Philippines.
“Discussions between the two leaders will focus on expanding trade and investment, as well as cooperation on a range of issues, including development and countering threats to regional and global security,” Harper said.
As chairman of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation this year, “the Philippines shares Canada’s commitment to fostering the participation of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the global economy,” it added.
In 2014, Canada announced that the Philippines had been designated a country of focus for development assistance as well as a priority emerging market for Canadian overseas trade and investment.
In 1989, Aquino’s mother Corazon became the first Filipino president to make a state visit to Canada. Her successor, Fidel Ramos, made his own state visit in 1997.
Harper visited the Philippines in November 2012, the first by a Canadian prime minister in 15 years. Harper and Aquino met again on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Beijing in November 2014.
Canada is the Philippines’ 21st largest trading partner and its sixth top source market for tourism. – With Joseph Lariosa
Read more on The Philippine Star