Malaysia, Canada keen on boosting trade ties with PHL (Business Mirror (Philippines))

Trade missions led by officials from Malaysia and Canada arrived in the country in a bid to boost trade ties with the Philippines.

Following the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministers responsible for trade meeting in Boracay, the trade ministers of Canada and Malaysia led their respective trade missions in Manila to explore business opportunities in the Philippines.

The Malaysian business delegation-composed of 32 Malaysian company executives-expressed interest in health-care services, the information communication technology, food and beverage, and solar energy sectors.

Malaysia’s Minister for International Trade and Industry Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed underscored the importance of closer convergence of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of both nations, during the trade and investment mission in Fairmont Hotel. We are encouraging small and medium enterprises [of Malaysia and the Philippines] to work together, specifically in the sectors of information and communication technology, it’s important to work together for SMEs, Mohamed said.

Similarly there is strong, mutual interest from Filipino companies to keep investing in Malaysia, said Mohamed, as evidenced by business magnate Ramon S. Ang’s continued expansion plan for Petron Malaysia, and another Philippine-based food- and-beverage company that is eyeing to make Malaysia its regional production hub.

Malaysia’s big-ticket investments were in the Philippine manufacturing sector in the years 2010 to 2014, accounting for 56.3 percent of total inflows. Malaysian firms have also invested in the country’s construction sector, water supply, electricity, gas and steam sectors, and support services.

Total bilateral trade between Malaysia and the Philippines amounted to $5.26 billion in 2014, an improvement of 17.8 percent over 2013’s total two-way trade of $4.47 billion.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Minister for International Trade Ed Fast, said Ottawa sees potential in the Philippines’s infrastructure, transportation, agri-food processing and sustainable technology sectors.

Fast, however, said that, while the Philippines and Canada are moderately healthy-estimated at $1.8 billion in 2014-it can increase more rapidly with a free-trade agreement (FTA) in place, hence the preliminary talks on one.

We said that in order to significantly rapidly increase our bilateral trade, we believe that exploring a free-trade agreement makes a lot of sense, there’s a high degree of complementarity between the Philippines and Canada’s economies. My goal is to see our trade grow much faster from the past growth, Fast said.

A bilateral FTA with Canada is seen as an option for the Philippines to access the markets of Mexico and the United States, as Canada has concluded an FTA with these two countries.