Aquino off to US, Canada for stronger ties, investments
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday, May 6, left for a working visit to the United States and a state visit to Canada to build on the already strong Philippines ties with the two nations, and to generate more investor interest in the country.
“We will seize this opportunity to further strengthen our cooperation towards a common goal, and to attract businessmen in the United States and Canada to generate more investments for our country,” Aquino said at departure ceremonies at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2.
The President’s first stop is Chicago, for a one-day working visit on May 6. He will meet with top executives of big companies belonging to the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-ASEAN Business Council.
He said he seeks to further improve on the Philippines’ bilateral trade with the US, currently the country’s third largest trading partner.
“Now that the economy of both countries are improving…we will show that the Philippines is really more open for business,” the President said.
He will meet with the Filipino community in Chicago, which has the biggest concentration of Filipinos in the Midwest US, to bring them the “good news” back home.
From Chicago, the President will travel to Canada for a state visit – the first by a Philippine president since 1997 – upon the invitation of Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“In my visit, we will witness the signing of several memorandums of understanding that will strengthen ties between the Philippines and Canada. We will also thank their government and their people for all their support,” Aquino said.
Philippine environment and labor groups have urged Aquino to raise the issue of illegal Canadian trash in the Philippines when he meets with Harper. Fifty Canadian container vans full of garbage have been stranded in Manila ports for two years now. (READ: Groups to Aquino: Remind Canada about illegal trash)
In his speech, Aquino said that Canada helped the country in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda, and doubled its official development assistance to the Philippines to $111.95 million in 2014.
Canada has also designated the Philippines as a “Country of Focus” for different forms of bilateral assistance. Last year, it deemed the Philippines as a “Priority Emerging Market,” which Aquino said placed the Philippines on top of the list of recipients of funds and programs from Canada.
“This kind of support proves that they see the great potential of our country,” Aquino said.
The President will also meet with businessmen in Canada, and the Filipino community in Toronto and Vancouver.
Aquino said he expects to bring home more "good news" when he returns to Manila on May 10. – Rappler.com