Philippines and Canada: Future trading partners with similar values

| June 22, 2014 | 0 Comments
In 2013, the Philippines became self- sufficient in rice production and started  exporting three varieties.

In 2013, the Philippines became self-
sufficient in rice production and started
exporting three varieties.

The Philippines is on a definitive reform path. The social contract of President Benigno S. Aquino III with the Filipino people compels the government to embark upon a transformative economic and political mission.
That contract revolves around five action areas: Good governance, poverty alleviation, sustained economic growth, justice and human rights and environmental protection, climate-change mitigation and adaptation. The Philippines continues to make progress in all areas.
Seasoned analysts see a new dawn breaking for the Philippines, marvelling at “the Philippine phenomenon,” which positions the economy as a dark horse for investment. Indicators back this up.
Economic fundamentals are strong and sound. In 2013, despite being in the pathway of the most powerful typhoon recorded in modern history late that year, our economy grew by 7.2 percent, far greater than expectations even before the typhoon struck. The Philippine economy ranks 45th in the world and is on track to boast the 16th largest GDP by 2050.
In 2013, the Philippines attained investment grade status from Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. It also saw its highest movement on global competitive rankings and introduced policies to make it easier to do business.
The Philippine ability to build up $92 billion in foreign reserves in 2013, buffered by more than $22 billion in remittances from nationals overseas covers short-term external debt, helps weather global disturbances and even contributes to rebuilding and recovery efforts after global financial shocks elsewhere.
Among stakeholders and international partners from the public and private sectors, bullishness surrounds growth in agri-business, business process outsourcing, creative industries, infrastructure, manufacturing and logistics, mining, tourism, medical travel and retirement.
Shared service centres set up by Fortune 500 companies make the Philippines the call-centre capital of the world, as the overall global business process outsourcing (BPO) industry grows among  the Philippines, India and Canada.
Challenges persist. The 20 typhoons that hit yearly make up the bulk of the economic costs the government faces. But the Philippines demonstrates an uncanny resilience. My country had, for example, been importing rice, but, in 2013, for the first time in 40 years, began exporting three varieties.
Beyond force majeure, the government continues to make headway. Foremost on this agenda are its emphasis on promoting transparency by stamping out corruption, its goal of making the investment environment more attractive, its work in helping industries become more competitive and its efforts to exercise prudent fiscal management by increasing revenue and calibrating public expenditure.
Canadian exports to the Philippines were $527.9 million, while imports from the Philippines hit $991.2 million.
As Canadians look to Asia, securing partnerships with the Philippines would be strategic as the era of ASEAN Economic Community dawns in 2015.
Recently, the Philippines and Canada marked milestones in two-way relations. A 2012 agreement forming the Joint Commission on Bilateral Co-operation (JCBC) builds on previous key agreements in investment protection and avoidance of double taxation. High-level visits and exchanges have taken place as well.
Canada, through various development aid initiatives, has helped build partnerships with local government units, eased remittance flows, facilitated disaster-mitigation measures and provided timely calamity response and relief. It also took an active role in the recent success of the peace process in the southern Philippines.
Two-way trade and commerce has been modest, but steady. At the same time, the inaugural tourism program for Canadian snowbirds early this year holds promise for further tourism flows.
One aspect of our relationship stands out, namely the increasing people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. This point is obvious to many in Canada. Being cheerful, caring, well-educated, English-speaking and friendly people, the consensus is consistent in Canada that Filipinos are hardworking, industrious and reliable workers and managers.
The young, dynamic human resource is a defining piece of the puzzle for Canadian enterprises. We are keen on working on, and strengthening, labour co-operation at the provincial and federal levels.
As the Philippines has become the largest source of new migrants and temporary workers to Canada, and Tagalog has become the fastest-growing language in the country, Canadian observers best summed up the phenomenon: Filipinos typify true traditional Canadian values of hard work, rule of law, personal responsibility, devotion to family and respect for tradition.
With such a solid socio-cultural foundation, the Philippines and Canada are natural partners, and we look forward to accomplishing more together to improve economic productivity and create value.

Eric Tamayo is minister and consul
general at the embassy of the Philippines. Reach embassy staff by email at or phone at (613) 233-1121.

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Category: Diplomatica

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Eric Tamayo is minister and consul general at the embassy of the Philippines. Reach embassy staff by email at or phone at (613) 233-1121.

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