Canada asks for PH support in ASEAN free trade negotiations
MANILA, Philippines — Canada is seeking the Philippines’ support in its free trade negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), citing the importance of ASEAN Centrality.
Canadian Foreign Minister Mèlanie Joly made the call on Thursday during a courtesy call on President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in Malacañang, according to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).
“Regarding trade, we are negotiating for a free trade agreement with ASEAN. So we hope that we could have the support of the Philippines. And we are negotiating also to become a strategic partner of ASEAN, recognizing the importance of ASEAN Centrality,” Joly said, as quoted by the PCO.
“So if we could work together to achieve that, that would be very much appreciated because we are bringing a lot of diplomatic knowledge and strength,” she added.
The PCO said Marcos welcomed Joly’s statement and said there are many opportunities the two countries can identify “as potential areas for us to be able to move further.”
Marcos likewise expressed his desire for the Philippines to pursue strategic partnership with Canada to further strengthen their bilateral ties.
“On the issue of strategic partnership, I think it is something that certainly we can pursue. I cannot at the outset see anything that should get in the way of achieving this goal,” the President told Joly.
Joly said Canada and the Philippines have enjoyed strong friendship for many decades because of people-to-people ties, and her country is ready to further strengthen collaboration in that area.
“We will also be working even more on strengthening people-to-people ties by offering more scholarships for Filipinos,” she added.
Joly said Canada will expand cooperation with the Philippines to include other areas such as agriculture.
Canada and the Philippines are set to mark their 75th year of bilateral relations in 2024.