PHL, Canada eye free trade pact

MANILA, May 11 (PNA) — The governments of the Philippines and Canada are considering the possibility of signing a free trade agreement.

This was disclosed by President Benigno Aquino III in his speech upon his arrival early Monday from a four-day working trip to the US and Canada from May 6-10, 2015.

Aquino said he is elated for the start of exploratory talks between the two countries.

”Oras na maisakatuparan ang ganitong kasunduan, pihado po: uunlad pa ang ating kalakalan, at manganganak ito ng trabaho at pagkakataon para sa Pilipino,” he said.

Other positive outcome of the President’s first State Visit to Canada include stronger small and mediuam enterprise (SME) sector for both countries and firmer stance to fight crime and terrorism.

Aquino said the Canada Trade and Development Facility offered to help Philippines’ SME players enter the Canadian market more effectively.

He said this proposal will help the Philippines further promote SMEs in the Asia Pacific while hosing the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

He said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also offered to help the Philippines’ bid to have more effective port security.

Relatively, the Chief Executive said he signed several agreements while in Canada and these include the Philippines-Canada Mutual Accountability Framework, which has been given a budget of 82 million Canadian dollars.

Aquino said this pact targets to further strengthen the coordination between the two countries.

Another agreement he signed is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Occupational Safety and Health of Filipinos working in Canada.

Relatively, the President disclosed that a big company in Canada vowed to increase its investments in the Philippines on top of the Php 1.3 billion it already brought in for its waste-to-energy facililty targeted to be finished within the year.

He declined to identify the said company, which he said, also plans to enter the tourism and agriculture sector, with the latter through blueberries and cranberries farming.

Similarly, the President said the government of British Columbia has offered their expertise on sea planes.

”Siyempre po, bukas tayo rito, lalo pa’t mayroon tayong 7,107 mga isla, at magiging mas madali ang pagbiyahe ng ating mga turista kung pwede silang mailapag ng eroplano sa tabing-dagat,” he said.

The President said the Philippines now enjoys a good image overseas with the help of Filipinos abroad.

He considers his recent overseas trip as a way of planting the seeds for the future.

” Kasabay ng pag-uwi ng mga napitas nating positibong bunga ngayon, nakapagpunla rin tayo ng mga binhing pihadong aanihin pa ng sambayanan sa mga darating na panahon,” he added. (PNA)