Report from the Philippines: MP Kevin Lamoureux – Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office opens in Manila

Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay, Canada Ambassador to Philippines David Hartman

Less than two weeks ago I was in the Philippines participating in a wide variety of meetings and a ribbon cutting ceremony. Before the formal agenda began, I was able to take a long walk-in downtown Makati on a typical sunny February day while absorbing the atmosphere around me. It is easy to understand why so many people like to be in the Philippines in January and February. Unfortunately, due to the work schedule I was not able to host any immigration workshops or visit schools or visit many people or even go outside of Metro Manila, but we did accomplish a great deal.

The primary reason for the trip was for Canada’s Minister of Agriculture to open the first ever Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office. The new Manila office will provide expertise and resources related to Agri-food and trade to 40 countries and I was pleased to be there when we cut the ribbon.

Our Prime Minister has invested a great deal of resources in expanding trade opportunities and building relations with countries around the world. For me the Philippines has always been a priority and having this office located in Metro Manila says a great deal. Agriculture, food security and trade will be growing worldwide in a very large way in the years ahead and this new office will be playing a critical role in many ways.

Two very different groups we met with clearly demonstrated how in different ways this new office will help. Pork is a gigantic industry in Canada with Manitoba alone producing over 8 million pigs a year. In meetings with several stakeholders the issue of protecting the local producers share of the market was critically important (and we agreed) but it was very clear that there was a high interest in importing more processed pork from Canada. We met with some potato farmers who supply Manila with most of the potatoes that the city requires for things like French fries. It was interesting to learn that the potato seeds that they used to grow their potatoes come from Canada because our potatoes provide a larger yield of potatoes per plant. We had a tour of a Metro Supermarket where they have over 150 items processed from Canada that you can purchase at their grocery stores, and they indicated that the demand for Canadian products continues to grow.

As I indicated that the new office will be there to serve 40 countries in total but let there be no doubt there is an advantage having it located in the Philippines.

It was really cool to meet the CEO and the owners of Jollibee, and I reminded them about Winnipeg having the first Jollibee in Canada. Jollibee’s short-term goal is to open 100 restaurants in Canada. Sticking with fast food, if you live in Winnipeg, you have likely noticed that KFC has been brought back to life with stores being renovated and service dramatically improved. Well, that is due to its new ownership, ownership that is based in the Philippines and KFC Canada is wanting them to continue to expand in Canada.

With the help of Ambassador Austria I was able to meet with the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and other Members of Congress. One evening I was afforded the chance to walk around in Pasay where I even met with a Barangay Captain and many others.

Canada’s million plus residents of Filipino heritage is a valuable advantage in many ways as we build a stronger and healthier relationship between both countries. Wouldn’t a trade agreement be nice?