Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay has appointed a seasoned-veteran with Global Affairs Canada to be the inaugural Executive Director of a new trade office in Manila, Philippines.
Diedrah Kelly has more than 20 years experience in various roles abroad, including
her recent role as Consul General of Canada in Mumbai, India. Prior to that, she also served as an Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for Canada.“The Indo-Pacific region holds so much potential for Canada’s agricultural sector, and the establishment of the new Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office in Manila is a sign of our commitment to the region. I would like to congratulate Ms. Kelly on her appointment as Executive Director of the IPAAO, and I look forward to working with her to create more opportunities for Canada’s high-quality products.” said Minister MacAulay in a news release.
“We launched the Indo-Pacific Strategy to position Canada for long-term growth and prosperity that benefits everyone. The appointment of Ms. Kelly as the Executive Director of the new Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office demonstrates Canada’s continued commitment to enhancing and diversifying our trade and economic partnerships with Indo-Pacific economies and growing opportunities for our world-class businesses.” said Mary Ng, Federal Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development.
Kelly says a frequent criticism she’s heard over the years is Canada’s inconsistent presence in the Indo-Pacific region and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Office in Manila will address that.
“The establishment of the office will be an important step, first of all, in terms of highlighting the importance that we place on the trading relationship with that region,” said Kelly. “The other important thing it’s going to do – that I will be doing in my job – is providing a regional strategic lens for the ag sector in the Indo-Pacific, so working with not only government counterparts in the region and provinces and territories, but also industry and other stakeholders as we move to implement this exciting new endeavour.”Kelly also noted consultations occurred with provincial and industry stakeholders to determine the focus and objectives of the Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office (IPAAO).
She explained the office will consist of staff from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and will help exporters find new business opportunities to position Canada as a preferred supplier for the region. It will also address market access problems before they become bigger issues.
“By having technical experts on the ground – one, it give them an opportunity to monitor things that could be coming their way in terms of possible irritants; or when issues do arise unexpectedly, they’ll be able to go in to the relationships they’ve established and troubleshoot them before they become major irritants; or for issues already longstanding in the region to have that regional presence that will be there in a sustained manner to have conversations more frequently to be able to put pen to paper and try to negotiate these issues and bypass obstacles so that it benefits both the exporters and the imports and provides some stability and food security.”
The trade office is part of Canada’s ongoing efforts to bolster trade in the Indo-Pacific region, as they have trade agreements with South Korea under the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA), and Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The federal government noted global agri-food and seafood imports into ASEAN markets over the last decade increased from $72-billion in 2012 to $200-billion in 2022.
Therefore, Kelly says the Indo-Pacific region, which encompasses 40 countries, has lots of potential for Canada. “If you look at the trajectory, it’s likely that the region is going to make up two-thirds of the middle class by 2030 and over half of the global GDP by 2040 so in terms of economic force it is certainly one to be reckoned with and is an important part of the world in order to ensure Canada’s sustained prosperity moving forward,” Kelly added.
The office in Manila is a $31.8-million investment from the federal government.