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With diplomatic relations beginning in 1949, Canada and the Philippines will mark their 75th year of strong and friendly bilateral relations in 2024.
The national interests of both countries align on many issues, which have resulted in regular collaboration in the multilateral system, such as the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN), United Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the World Trade Organization. Canada supports efforts by the Philippines to advance inclusive and accountable governance, diversity, human rights, and the rule of law. Our countries work closely to maintain international peace and security. Joint efforts include responding to threats posed by international terrorist groups; discouraging the use of child soldiers by armed groups; combatting human smuggling and instances of online sexual exploitation of children; and improving biosecurity.
Ever-increasing people to-people links between Canada and the Philippines contribute to the growth of both societies. According to the 2021 census, close to 1 million citizens of Philippine origin live in Canada, while a growing number of Filipino citizens visit family and friends in Canada, study at Canadian colleges and universities or immigrate to Canada. A significant number of Canadians visit the Philippines each year for tourism, work, and family visits. Recently, Canada made important modifications easing visas for eligible travelers to Canada. The Embassy of Canada in the Philippines has been selected to house the new Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office. This office, once fully established, will help further expand Canada’s engagement with the Philippines and the region, notably on food security.
Canada’s Embassy in the Philippines is located in Makati City (Metro Manila). We also maintain a consulate in Cebu City. The Philippines is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa and also maintains three consulates-general in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. It has honourary consular offices in Winnipeg, St. John's, Charlottetown and Halifax.
Political and economic overview
Consisting of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines cover almost 300,000 square kilometres of land and have a population of approximately 109 million. The country is predominantly Christian Catholic with a minority Muslim population and a growing evangelical presence. The official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and English.
The Philippines is the third largest market in Southeast Asia. It enjoys strong economic, democratic, and demographic fundamentals. In 2022, the Philippines GDP grew by 7.6%, one of the fastest growth rates in the region.
In 2022, Canada-Philippines bilateral merchandise trade totalled $3.1 billion, up from $2.7 billion in 2021. Canadian merchandise exports to the Philippines in 2022 amounted to $1.2 billion, down slightly from $1.3 billion in 2021. In 2022, Canadian merchandise imports from the Philippines were valued at $1.9 billion, up from $1.4 billion in the previous year. Canada’s stock in direct investments abroad in the Philippines in 2021 was approximately $1.6 billion.
Canada and the Philippines are currently negotiating a free trade agreement in the context of the Canada-ASEAN FTA negotiation. Canada and the Philippines held in February 2023 the inauguration of the Joint Economic Commission. This newly established bilateral mechanism provides a useful high-level forum to advance trade and investment issues of mutual interest.
The Trade Commissioner Service in the Philippines promotes Canadian technologies and solutions in the Philippines. Sectors of focus are: Agri-Food, Education, Climate Finance, Infrastructure, Telecommunications, Clean Technologies, including renewable technologies, ICT, Creative Industries, Mining, Aerospace, Defence and Security.
Canada and the Philippines share a long-standing partnership in international assistance cooperation. Since 1986, Canada has provided over $1 billion in official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines averaging $24 million over the last five years (all channels combined).
The Philippines is one of the most dynamic economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and is on track to reach upper middle-income status in the next few years. Ongoing challenges to inclusive development include persistent pockets of poverty, food insecurity, a fragile peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
As of 2021, approximately a fifth of the population in the Philippines lived under the national poverty line. Poverty rates in the BARMM, although trending downwards in recent years, remain particularly high. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines had the highest number of food-insecure citizens among South East Asian countries.
In 2022, the Philippines was ranked as the most natural disaster prone country globally (World Risk Index) and this vulnerability is increasing due to climate change. The Philippines counts more than 7,000 islands that extend over 1,850 kilometres, which contain land and marine habitats with some of the richest biodiversity of flora and fauna on Earth. Climate change threatens these habitats and communities with an increased frequency of natural disasters such as devastating typhoons, higher sea levels and temperatures. When combined with a high dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources, climate change places the well-being, livelihoods and food security of millions of Filipinos at significant risk.
The Government of the Philippines has outlined its development vision in key policy documents, including AmBisyon Natin 2040 and the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028. Canada’s bilateral assistance aligns with the development priorities of the Philippines while contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Specifically, Canada’s bilateral assistance focuses on:
Peace, security and inclusive governance
The fragile peace, pockets of instability and nascent institutions in Mindanao’s BARMM impedes the region’s socio-economic development, limits private investment and curbs its capacity to provide basic service delivery. Canada supports the implementation of the peace process in the Bangsamoro, includingempowering women as community peace mediators assisting in the transition of former combatants to normal livelihoods, and supporting civic and peace education for children among conflict-affected communities.
Growth that works for everyone
Poverty, inequality, climate change and natural disasters can be impediments to inclusive economic growth in the Philippines. Canada assists cooperatives, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and other stakeholders by helping them increase their productivity, solidify their business skills, access formal financial products and services, and build resilience to climate shocks. Canada also works with partners to protect development gains from the destabilizing effects of climate change and conflict, especially in relation to food security.
Persistent barriers to women and girls’ participation in society prevent them from reaching their full potential. Notably, insufficient access to, and low societal acceptance of, sexual and reproductive health services contribute to the country’s high fertility rate, limiting women and girls’ academic and economic opportunities. Canada supports projects and partners who improve the provision of health services, including sexual and reproductive health, and prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
Environment and climate action
High dependence on climate-sensitive resources for its agriculture, fisheries, eco-tourism and other sectors makes the Philippine economy vulnerable to environmental degradation and unsustainable exploitation. Moreover, increasingly variability and frequency of weather events such as typhoons displace thousands every year and incur billions in revenue losses and damages to critical infrastructure, particularly in agriculture. This further threatens resources and livelihoods, and deepens inequalities. Canada supports the Philippines’ innovative climate financing environment by accelerating the flows of public and private capital and technical expertise towards nature-based solutions. Canada supports the Philippines’ innovative climate financing environment by accelerating the flows of public and private capital and technical expertise towards nature-based solutions. Canada also contributes to energy transition in the Philippines through financing and technical assistance.
Search the Project Browser for more on Canada’s international assistance contributions in the Philippines.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and the Philippines work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Open Government Partnership (OGP)
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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