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Canada asks for PH support in free trade talks with ASEAN

The Canadian government has asked for the Philippines’ support in its ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

According to the Presidential Communications Office, Canadian Foreign Minister Mèlanie Joly raised the matter during her courtesy call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacañang.

“Regarding trade, we are negotiating for a free trade agreement with ASEAN. So we hope that we could have the support of the Philippines. And we are also negotiating to become a strategic partner of ASEAN, recognizing the importance of ASEAN Centrality,” Joly said.

“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,” she added.

The Foreign Minister is in the country for a three-day visit aimed at promoting regional stability, and rules-based international order and to discuss Canada's new Indo-Pacific strategy with Philippine officials.

Marcos, for his part, welcomed Joly's remarks, saying there are numerous opportunities the two countries can identify “as potential areas for us to be able to move further.”

He also expressed his desire for the Philippines to pursue a strategic partnership with Canada to strengthen 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,” Marcos said.

Joly said the Canadian government wanted to expand its cooperation with the Philippines to include other areas such as agriculture and to strengthen their people-to-people ties to the country by offering more scholarships for Filipinos.

Canada and the Philippines are set to mark their 75th year of bilateral relations in 2024. —NB, GMA Integrated News