AS FOREIGN media’s portrayal of Mindanao in terms of peace and security is quite negative causing hesitation of Canadian investors to come visit, a Canadian Chamber of Commerce official suggests Filipino exporters to visit Canada and promote their products themselves.

“So if you can’t take the hose to water, you bring the water to the hose. And in this case, if you’re not gonna get companies coming here, you better go there. I would argue, it’s more efficient. But the fact of the matter is, as a practical solution I don’t think you’re gonna get, in the first step, companies. We may have to do a better job in what they do when they go to Canada,” said Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Julian Payne during the Philippines-Canada Trade Forum held at Marco Polo Hotel last Thursday, October 26.

He added there had been trade missions to Canada, some have succeeded while others didn’t. Payne believes the Filipino investors need to work harder to reach foreign investors especially those that have peace and security fears of Mindanao.

“It’s very hard, not only to get companies to come to Mindanao, even non-government organizations (NGOs), who are you know, have different orientations. Sometimes, they won’t get their people in Mindanao and it’s very simple. It’s because they can’t get insurance. That’s the reason,” he said.

According to Payne, a thorough promotion and working for export of specific commodities to take place between Philippines and Canada is a must.

“If it’s bananas, we need to plan very carefully. Who are the distributors of bananas in Canada? We probably know. Are there any impediments? Yes or No? I don’t think there are but maybe. We have to do our homework and find it. And step by step, item by item, and say that’s not the impediment, that’s not the problem,” added Payne.

PhilExport Davao president Ferdinand Marañon, during the forum, raised the concerns of the banana players in the region to allow export of bananas to Canada.

Senior Trade Commissioner of the Embassy of Canada Crista McInnis promised to study the tariff and restriction concerns involving banana export from Philippines to Canada and to see what the embassy can do to finally export the commodity in their country. Bananas in Canada are mostly coming from South America.

McInnis also added that the Philippines has a good human resource capital and must take advantage of it.

“It’s one of your strongest assets both in terms of the age of the population here, the incredible language skills, the education and training. Use that resource to move up the value chain as well. I think that is a really important opportunity for growing your markets… You also have a lot of capability and capacity to add value here in the Philippines and to export high-value products,” said McInnis.

She cited as an example the lumbers exported to the Philippines to Japan are then actually processed by Japan into prefab housing and then export it to Canada.