Canada opens first Indo-Pacific agri office in Manila

REGIONAL AGRI OFFICE. Canadian Minister for Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay gives his remarks during the symbolic opening ceremony of the Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office on Wednesday (Feb. 21, 2024). With the IPAAO opening, MacAulay is confident Canada’s annual agriculture and agri-food export worth over CAD22.8 billion (PHP943.19 billion) to the region would further grow. (PNA photo by Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

MANILA – The Canadian government on Wednesday formally opened its first regional agriculture office in the Philippines, which would cater to all its partners across the Indo-Pacific region.

The new Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office (IPAAO) will facilitate capacity-building opportunities as well as link Canada’s farmers, producers, and agri-food stakeholders to its key trading partners, including the Philippines.

With this opening, visiting Canadian Minister for Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay expressed optimism Canada’s annual agriculture and agri-food export worth over CAD22.8 billion (PHP943.19 billion) to the region would further grow.

MacAulay said the Philippines was selected as the new office’s site given its strong relations with Ottawa and its strategic location in the Indo-Pacific region. “We have a great relationship with the Philippines, it’s a central location,” he told reporters.

“We want to sell products here but we are also going to work with this area to increase production because we understand that as a country, food stability is such an important issue,” he added.

The office is located within the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines and will be staffed by trade and agriculture experts from Canada. It is a joint venture between the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and was established under Ottawa’s CAD2.3 billion Indo-Pacific Strategy.

The IPAAO’s mobile team will operate from Manila and work to build strategic partnerships while also promoting Canada’s expertise as a world leader in food safety and sustainability.

The first team of IPAAO staff is already on the ground, working with partners to advance shared priorities, such as food security, technical cooperation, and market access and trade.

Grain Growers of Canada Chair Andre Harpe welcomed the opening, saying the Indo-Pacific presents a large opportunity for Canada’s grains export sector. He said “market diversification is critical for producers to secure the best price for their grains and the Indo-Pacific region presents the largest opportunity for our sector.”

“We are proud to see the opening of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office and we look forward to working together to grow, open, and sustain markets across the region,” he added.

Dave Carey of the Canadian Canola Growers Association said the opening also signals that Canada is “serious” about market access and development. “Canada’s 43,000 canola farmers rely on trade, 90 percent of the canola grown in Canada is exported as seed, oil, and meal,” he said.

“The opening of the IPAAO sends a strong signal to our trading partners in the region that Canada is serious about market access, maintenance, and development,” he added.

Coinciding with the opening was MacAulay’s trade mission to Malaysia and the Philippines, indicating Canada’s growing interest in Southeast Asia. During a press briefing, he said Canada and ASEAN are also set to hold their next negotiations for a free trade agreement in Manila shortly. (PNA)