Filipino diplomats in Canada, led by Amb. Petronila Garcia, recently met in Vancouver for a two-day workshop to map out strategies to intensify trade, investment and tourism between the Philippines and Canada.
The group likewise discussed consular matters with a view to streamlining procedures for passport, notarial, civil registry and dual citizenship applications.
Participants were career diplomats from the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa and the Philippine Consulates General in Toronto and Vancouver, the Philippine honorary consular officials in Edmonton, Halifax and Winnipeg, the labor attaches in Toronto and Vancouver, as well as the trade attaché in New York, and the agriculture and defense attaches in Washington D.C., USA.
The group likewise met with Canadian investors including the Aquilini Investment Group, which has invested $25 million in a waste-to-energy plant at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) complex in Mactan, Cebu.
John Negrin, president of the Aquilini Renewable Energy, told the delegation that Aquilini is looking to expand its investments to other areas like agriculture, aquaculture, housing, and infrastructure development.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” Negrin said, assuring the group that the Aquilini Group, owner of the Vancouver Canucks, has great confidence in the Philippine economy.
The trade, agriculture and labor delegates also met with representatives of Asian food retailer T&T and frozen yogurt chain owner Warrick Chu to explore ways of promoting or increasing Philippine exports to Canada.
Agriculture attaché Joysiline Javelosa, meantime, met in Victoria with Stacey Toews co-founder of Level Ground Marketing, a company promoting fair trade in agricultural commodities and directly dealing with small farmers
in developing countries, including the Philippines.
Level Ground is already importing and retailing natural coconut oil and specialty heirloom rice varieties from the Philippines, but is looking to import more products that would pass their stringent nutrition, safety and health
Members of the delegation likewise met with Alan Yong, president and CEO of the Filipino weekly Philippine Canadian Inquirer and long distance service provider TimesTel. Yong is seeking Philippine government support for Invest Philippines, an investment road show to be held in Vancouver and Toronto.
On the sidelines of the consular and economic diplomacy workshops, Ambassador Garcia and some members of the delegation met with B.C. Minister for International Trade and Multiculturalism Teresa Wat to discuss and assess Philippines-B.C. economic relations.
Ambassador Garcia told Minister Wat she is hopeful that trade between the Philippines and the Canadian province would increase, considering the “maturity of relations” between them.