• Canada's foreign minister cited the importance of ASEAN centrality as Canada aims towards becoming a strategic partner of ASEAN
  • President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. said there are many opportunities for Canada and the Philippines to identify "as potential areas" for stronger diplomatic relations
  • Canada said it will offer more scholarships for Filipinos 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is seeing more "potential areas" for stronger bilateral ties with Canada.

The president said this during the courtesy visit of Canada's Foreign Minister Mèlanie Joly to Malacañang on Thursday where the latter asked for the Philippines's support in its free trade negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In the meeting, Joly cited the importance of ASEAN centrality as it works towards becoming a strategic partner of ASEAN.

"Regarding trade, we are negotiating for a free trade agreement with ASEAN. So we hope that we could have the support of the Philippines. And we are negotiating also to become a strategic partner of ASEAN, recognizing the importance of ASEAN Centrality," Joly was quoted by the Inquirer in this report.

"So if we could work together to achieve that, that would be very much appreciated because we are bringing a lot of diplomatic knowledge and strength," she added.

Marcos welcomed Joly's statement and said that there are many opportunities for the two countries to identify "as potential areas for us to be able to move further." The president also expressed the government's desire to further strengthen its bilateral ties with Canada.

"On the issue of strategic partnership, I think it is something that certainly we can pursue. I cannot at the outset see anything that should get in the way of achieving this goal," Marcos said in this report by the Manila Times.

The Philippines and Canada are set to mark 75 years of bilateral relations in 2024.

Joly said the people-to-people ties between Canada and the Philippines have led to a strong friendship between the two countries.

"We will also be working even more on strengthening people-to-people ties by offering more scholarships for Filipinos," she said in the meeting adding that Canada will include other areas in its diplomatic cooperation with the Philippines such as in agriculture.

In January, Canada said it is expecting better relations with the Philippines after it was strained when the Canadian government expressed concerns over human rights violations during the administration led by former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte previously took offense at the comments of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on reports of extrajudicial killings during his administration's controversial anti-drug campaign.

Philippine President Marcos in Washington