Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly will be in the Philippines this week for a three-day visit aimed at promoting regional stability and rules-based international order, as well as to discuss Canada’s new Indo-Pacific strategy with Philippine officials.
Joly is expected to meet with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, and other members of the Cabinet to discuss regional security and stability and maintenance of a rules-based international order amid tensions in the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan Straits.
The Canadian official will also discuss Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and its partnership with the Association of South East Asian Nations in the meetings.
“The Indo-Pacific is the global center of economic dynamism and is of strategic importance to our security. What brings our countries together is our unwavering commitment to democracy, prosperity, and a free, open and sustainable Indo-Pacific, rooted in the rule of law,” Joly said in a statement.
According to her, Canada aims to “deepen relationships in the region with key partners,” including Philippines and Korea which she will be visiting before her Manila trip.
Joly is the fourth minister to visit the Philippines under the Marcos administration.
She was preceded by Minister of Trade Mary Ng, Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau, and Minister of Development Harjit Sajjan, complementing and reinforcing two bilateral meetings between Marcos and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year.
While in Manila, Joly is also expected to engage with academics, non-governmental organizations, and civil society leaders to gain insights into the challenges facing the Philippines and the region.
As Canada intends to build on strong people to people ties with Manila, Joly said she will “seek ways to enhance cooperation under Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy to confront malign influence, combat climate change, protect maritime environments, and build more resilient, inclusive, and prosperous societies.”
Considered as one of the fastest growing economies in the Indo-Pacific region, the Philippines creates commercial, development, and climate finance opportunities for Canada, the Canadian government said.
In 2022, Canada-Philippines bilateral merchandise trade totaled CAD$3.1 billion with merchandise exports to the Philippines valued at CAD$1.1 billion (CAD$1.3B in 2021), while imports from the Philippines amounted to CAD$1.94 billion (CAD$1.4B in 2021).
Canada is also home to at least 960,000 people of Filipino descent, while a growing number of Filipinos visit family and friends in Canada, study at Canadian colleges and universities, or emigrate to Canada.