British Columbia looks to PH for increased trade, investment
CANADIAN province British Columbia is keen to expand business, trade and investment ties with the Philippines, as it sees the “fast growing” Asian neighbor as an opportunity to boost its own economy.
In a two-day trade mission to the Philippines on May 26 and 27, a delegation led by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark expressed strong interest in partnering with Philippine firms and institutions to increase bilateral trade and investment.
“There are 150,000 Filipinos living in British Columbia, and they are the number one source of immigration. Filipinos are the fastest growing population in Canada today.
This economy is growing so fast. When we look at the Philippines, we see the future,” Clark said during the joint special meeting of the Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) for BC.
“I think the Philippines will continue its trajectory of phenomenal growth,” she added.
BC Asean HQ to open here
On the first day of the trade mission, Clark announced the opening of BC’s Asean trade and investment headquarters in Manila, located in LKG Tower along Ayala Avenue in Makati City.
She said the BC sees great trade and investment opportunities in Asean, and chose to locate their office in the Philippines as the country is “one of the fastest growing economies in the world” today.
The delegation accompanying her included companies in the field of medical technology wanting to export technology in curing cancer to the Philippines, as well as firms involved in education exchange, and food import and export businesses.
Julian Payne, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (CanCham), said not only BC firms, but also the whole of Canada are focused on bringing technology and innovation in the country, as well as investments in the energy and education sectors.
During the trade mission, five deals—both memorandum of agreements (MOA) and memorandum of understandings (MOU) —were signed.
These agreements include: An MOU between Globe Telecom Inc. and Incognito Software Inc. for an automated portal; an MOA between North Island College and CIE School of Business and Information Technology for faculty and student exchange and finishing programs; an MOU between Pharma Canada Inc. and Hi-Precision Diagnostics Inc. to provide clean science technology; an MOU between Rotary World Help of British Columbia and Rotary of the Philippines and Manila Hospital for the donation of 80 containers of medical supplies to the Philippines; and the MOU between the University of British Columbia (UBC), De La Salle University, and University of the Philippines for the opening of the UBC Vancouver Summer Program.
In addition to these five agreements, Clark and other representatives of the BC delegation met with officials of homegrown firms Jollibee Foods Corp. and Ayala group—both its property unit Ayala Land Inc. and umbrella conglomerate Ayala Corp.—to talk about trade and investment opportunities in both countries.
Clark told reporters that they are asking the Jollibee group to open some stores in BC as their first outlets in Canada. Discussion with the Ayala group focused on the possibility of building a 250-unit residential apartment building in BC.
What’s next after BC
In a chance interview, Peter Angelo Perfecto, MBC executive director, said that the group is expecting a delegation from the US in June as well as a Singaporean delegation around August or September, mostly scouting for opportunities in the country’s infrastructure, tourism, and business process outsourcing sectors.
Perfecto said that foreign business groups and firms are still in a “wait-and-see” stance regarding the economic policies of the incoming administration of Rodrigo Duterte.
Should there be no significant changes in the business environment, or if some early improvements made, the MBC chief said trade and investments to the Philippines are likely to pick up after the 100-day “honeymoon period” of the new president.