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Canada-Philippines relations

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Bilateral relations

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 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 2016 census, over 837,000 people 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.

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 Edmonton, Winnipeg, St. John's, Charlottetown and Halifax.

Political and economic overview

The Philippines is a vibrant and developed democracy in Southeast Asia. Consisting of over 7,000 islands, they 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 economy of the Philippines is the 37th largest in the world, and is the 3rd largest economy in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after Indonesia and Thailand. It enjoys strong economic, democratic, and demographic fundamentals.

Trade relations

In 2021, Canada-Philippines bilateral merchandise trade totalled $2.7 billion, up from $2.1 billion in 2020. Canadian merchandise exports to the Philippines in 2021 amounted to $1.3 billion, up from $899.4 million in 2020. Top exports include meat, mineral ores, wood, cereals, and precious stones and metals. Increased exports of meat and wood played a key factor in the increase in total merchandise exports in 2021. In 2021, Canadian merchandise imports from the Philippines were valued at $1.4 billion, up slightly from $1.2 billion in the previous year. Top imports from the Philippines include electronics, machinery, and scientific and precision instruments. Canada and the Philippines are currently negotiating a free trade agreement in the context of the Canada-ASEAN FTA negotiation.

Canada’s stock in direct investments abroad in the Philippines in 2020 was approximately $2.6 billion.

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Development

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). Bilateral funding to the Philippines in the 2021 to 2022 fiscal year was over $15 million.

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 pandemic, the Philippines had the highest number of food-insecure citizens among South East Asian countries. And, although the Philippines performs above its regional peers in the Global Gender Gap rankings, there has been some recent backsliding and gender inequalities persist including in relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and economic and political participation.

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 2017 to 2022. 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 through the empowerment of women as community peace mediators and the transition of former combatants to normal livelihoods.

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, conflict and COVID-19, especially in food security.

Human dignity

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, particularly in light of disruptions caused by COVID-19.

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’s assistance in the Philippines for 2021 to 2022, includes:

Search the Project Browser to see what Canada is doing to support development in the Philippines.

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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:

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