Toronto, Ontario — Prime Minister Stephen Harper today marked the conclusion of a highly productive visit to Canada by Benigno Aquino III, President of the Philippines. The three-day state visit, from May 7 to May 9, 2015, which included stops in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, was President Aquino’s first to Canada and the first by a Filipino president since 1997.
The two leaders welcomed a number of key initiatives that will deepen the strong Canada-Philippines bilateral relationship.
In the area of commerce, the two countries launched exploratory discussions towards a free trade agreement and agreed to work towards upgrading the existing Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. Canada sees increased engagement with the Asia-Pacific region, and with the Philippines, as a priority for Canada’s economic growth.
The leaders also welcomed the signing of an important framework on mutual accountability for development cooperation that outlines the commitments of both governments to work together toward reducing poverty in the Philippines. As well, a number of projects were announced that will continue to help the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda).
In addition, the leaders held in-depth discussions on regional and global security challenges. The Prime Minister announced Canadian support to a number of initiatives aimed at improving maritime security, countering terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region, and supporting the President’s Bangsamoro Peace Process.
The two leaders also participated in a cultural event where they met with members of Canada’s vibrant Filipino community. At this event, Prime Minister Harper paid tribute to the tremendous contributions this community continues to make to Canada, and the importance of the strong people-to-people ties to the Canada-Philippines bilateral partnership.
– Canada and the Philippines enjoy long-standing and positive bilateral relations based on shared democratic values and a mutual interest in expanding trade and commercial relations.
– The relationship is strengthened by the roughly 700,000 people of Filipino origin now residing in Canada.
– Prime Minister Harper made an official visit to the Philippines in November 2012, the first by a Canadian Prime Minister in 15 years. Prime Minister Harper and President Aquino met again on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing in November 2014.
– The Philippines is Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner in Southeast Asia and is a priority market under Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan. The Philippines is also a country of focus for the Government of Canada’s international development efforts.
– With bilateral merchandise trade totalling $1.8 billion in 2014 and a population of approximately 100 million people, the Philippines is an important market for Canadian businesses.
– Canada is proud to have supported the development of the Bangsamoro peace agreement through our contribution to the work of the Government of the Philippines’ Independent Commission on Policing.
“It was a pleasure to welcome President Aquino to Canada. During his highly productive visit we were pleased to announce several important bilateral initiatives in the areas of commerce, development and security that will benefit citizens in both countries. His visit also provided an opportunity to introduce the President to Canada’s hard working Filipino communities and highlight some of their major contributions to the fabric of our society.”
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper