MANILA – Canada on Thursday urged the Philippines to support its free trade negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), its foreign minister said on Thursday.
During a courtesy call on President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in Malacañang, Canadian Foreign Minister Mèlanie Joly said her country is also vying to become a "strategic partner" of the ASEAN, as she cited the importance of ASEAN Centrality.
“Regarding trade, we are negotiating for a free trade agreement with ASEAN. So we hope that we could have the support of the Philippines," Joly said. “So if we could work together to achieve that, that would be very much appreciated because we are bringing a lot of diplomatic knowledge and strength.”
Marcos, meanwhile, expressed his desire for the Philippines to pursue a strategic partnership with Canada to further solidify their bilateral ties.
“On the issue of strategic partnership, I think it is something that certainly we can pursue. I cannot at the outset see anything that should get in the way of achieving this goal,” the President told Joly.
He also highlighted the many opportunities that the two countries could identify “as potential areas for us to be able to move further.”
Canada, Joly said, is ready to further strengthen people-to-people ties as both countries have enjoyed a strong friendship for many decades.
“We will also be working even more on strengthening people-to-people ties by offering more scholarships for Filipinos,” she said, adding that her country would expand cooperation with the Philippines to include such areas as agriculture.
Canada and the Philippines are set to mark their 75th year of bilateral relations in 2024. (PNA)