A trade official of Canada is encouraging the Philippine Government and Filipino businessmen to invest and take advantage of opportunities in the Canadian export, agriculture and food markets.

“Canada is still short of $200 million worth of exports from the Philippines which means the Philippines exports a lot more from Canada than we do and that is something we are also keen on making a balance,” said Canadian Senior Trade Commissioner Andrew Smith.

He said that the Philippines and Canada could be partners in Canada’s priority sectors which are agriculture, energy, ICT (information and communication technology), transportation and human resource.

“We really hope to have more Filipino investors going to Canada. Agriculture and food is a very promising sector to look into in Canada especially in food processing area as we have a lot of available commodities,” Smith said.

Smith said that Canada is open for investments in all areas except the telecommunications and airline industries which are their protected sectors with smaller threshold levels set.

“Back in Canada, we trade with the United States of America at $2 billion a day. Imagine how big that volume of trade is which only means that there is a huge market for the Philippines,” he said.

Smith cited the large population of Filipinos based in Canada.

“There are about half a million Filipinos in Canada today and they have been sending money to their loved ones here over the years. Last year the total remittances from OFWs in Canada to the Philippines amounted to over $2 billion which make up 10 percent of the total OFW remittances or 1 percent of your GDP (Gross Domestic Product) last year,” he said.

He also emphasized the need for more skilled manpower in Canada.

“We have a need for more skilled workers in Canada. There are about 29 skilled occupations needed there like radiologists, chefs, engineers, accountants and more,” Smith said.

The Canadian trade official also cited the $700 million investment of Canadian companies in the Philippines as one of the reasons Canada was also encouraging businessmen to invest in the country.

Smith said a number of Canadian companies already in the Philippines today engaged in various sectors and industries like financial services, telecommunication, business process outsourcing and mining.

“We also do trade in airplanes for the local aviation industry, aerospace and our Blackberry,” he said.

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