‘Ease restrictions to boost FDIs’

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Monday, June 30, 2014


WITH the Canadian Government pledging to boost economic ties with the Philippines, it suggested that the Philippine government consider easing economic restrictions as a measure to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs).

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder yesterday said they support the call to ease the economic strictures of the Philippine constitution to pave the way for more investments. He explained there are provisions in the constitution that work against economic growth and greater employment opportunities.

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“You have more restrictions than other countries,” said Reeder, noting that this is one of the reasons the Philippines is lagging behind Thailand and Vietnam in terms of FDI.

Reeder was in Cebu yesterday for the Canada Day Fair held at the Ayala Activity Center. The whole day activity was meant to enhance trade and investment links between the two countries.

Aside from easing economic provisions, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CanCham) president Julian Payne said the country should also double its efforts in terms of improving infrastructure and making businesses friendlier to investors.

Improvements in air and seaport, for instance, don’t only facilitate trade but also FDIs, Payne said.

Canada’s interests in the Philippines are in the areas of business process outsourcing (BPO), mining, and insurance.

Major Canadian investments in the Philippines include Sun Life and Manulife, which already have a longstanding presence in Cebu. Canada is a major employer in the BPO sector in both Manila and Cebu, with around 24,000 workers.

Canadian firms are also active in sectors such as information, communications and technology, environmental technologies, valued-added food and household products, as well as regional aircraft and helicopters.

Helicopters

Recently, the Department of National Defense signed a $105 million contract with Canada for eight helicopters for the use of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. These helicopters will be manufactured in Bell Helicopter’s facility in Mirabel, Québec, Canada.

In 2013, the two-way trade in goods between Canada and the Philippines reached more than $1.7 billion, a 15 percent increase from the previous year.

Canada’s major exports to the Philippines are meat, wood and cereals. Its major imports are electrical machinery, optical and medical instruments, and rubber.

Canadian exports into this market are valued at more than $600 million in 2013.

The agri-food exports increased by 40 percent alone, reinforcing the Philippines’ position as Canada’s second largest agri-food market in Asean. The Philippines is Canada’s top ten markets for pork exports.

To further strengthen the trade and investment ties between Canada and the Philippines, CanCham is arranging an Outbound Trade Mission to Canada, in coordination with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce-Toronto, to explore ways to expand business, trade and investment. The trade mission is scheduled on Aug. 15 to 24.

According to CanCham, the business exploration is aimed at owners and senior executives of Philippine companies, including small and medium sized enterprises in a broad range of sectors. The chamber said it has interested participants in the agri-food sector, seeking growth opportunities in agri-food business and technology, seafood products, food processing and packaging, hydroponic and organic farming.

Filipinos in Canada

On top of increasing trade ties, Reeder also announced a growing people-to-people linkages.

“Filipinos in Canada are increasing rapidly. Canada has many prominent Filipino communities, and today more than 800,000 Canadians are of Filipino origin,” said Reeder.

He said they anticipate the Filipino population in Canada to reach one million by 2020 as Canada continues to be an important destination for Filipinos on immigration, work on a temporary basis, or study.

Reeder, meanwhile, said the Canadian government has prioritized the immigration applications of the typhoon Yolanda victims who already had pending applications.

The Canadian government also gave out a total of $90 million in assistance, including $5 million as an initial response and an additional $85 million through the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund for early recovery and reconstruction.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 01, 2014.

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