Ambassador, consuls called home . . .
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has called back his ambassador and consuls in Canada in an attempt to propel Canada to promptly bring home its 2,500 tonnes of garbage that was shipped to Manila five years ago and left rotting in shipping containers. The move was reportedly triggered by Canada missing the May 15 deadline to take back the trash and its failure to meet with Philippine officials over this stewing issue.
Souring diplomatic ties . . .
This radical move by the 'maverick' president further escalates the already sour diplomatic relationship between the two countries that began more than a year ago. Canada raised concerns over the Philippines’ human rights record in November 2017 and four months later cancelled a deal to sell helicopters to the Philippine military over similar human rights issues. Duterte reacted fiercely at the time by lashing out publicly at Trudeau.
Politics impedes economics . . .
Should tensions continue, Canada will see a disruption in its strong people-to-people linkages with the Philippines and a subsequent spill-over into its trade relationship. The Philippines is the second largest source of Asian immigrants to Canada, contributing to our country’s skilled labour force, and is a prominent source of international tourists. Canada is also a vital source of external funding for the Philippines, with its Filipino diaspora in Canada transferring more money back home than any other diaspora community in Canada. The garbage spat adds another hurdle for Canada’s trade diversification in Asia as the Chinese market becomes increasingly challenging to access.