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21 June 2006

(Vancouver, Canada) Vice President Noli ‘Kabayan’ De Castro urged Filipino and Canadian businessmen to further improve the “strong and dynamic economic ties between the Philippines and Canada,” and proposed specific areas of cooperation for both countries.

De Castro, who is in Vancouver for the third session of the World Urban Forum (WUF3) organized by the U.N. Habitat, spoke before officers and members of the Philippines-Canada Trade Council (PCTC), a non-government association that promotes and assists trade and business between the two countries.

The Vice President reported that Canada is a major export market for the Philippines, with the 2005 export of electrical wiring harnesses alone reaching $77 million.

“Our Department of Trade and Industry has targeted Canada to be one of the top ten markets of Philippine products in the next three years,” he revealed.

He also pointed out that the Philippines imports Canadian products such as copper concentrates, wheat, meslin, wood and non-coniferous species, and electronic products.

De Castro proposed five key areas “where both Canada and the Philippines can gain from stronger cooperation.”

These are: mining, tourism, air service, manpower deployment, and development cooperation.

De Castro broached the idea of partnerships between Canada, “a world leader in mining,” and the Philippines, which has a total untapped mineral wealth of $840 billion.

In tourism, he said that entry of Canadian tourists in the Philippines has been growing with the opening of a tourism office in Toronto, and expressed hope “this trend will be sustained.”

He also reiterated the proposal to convene air service talks to increase flights between the two countries.

In manpower deployment, De Castro said that the negotiation of mutual recognition for nurses and other health-related occupations would be studied with Canada on a bilateral level or within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

“We are also keen on pursuing negotiations for a labor agreement on caregiver deployment,” he added.

In development cooperation, the Vice President pointed out that the Philippines has been a major recipient of Canadian aid, and that grants from the Canadian International Development Agency “have been instrumental in pursuing capacity-building programs in the Philippines.”

“I hope this continues in the future,” he said.

Ref no. VPMEDIA 06-072

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