As a commitment under the Joint Declaration of the Philippines-Australia Comprehensive Partnership, senior ministers from both countries have endorsed their Plan of Action for 2021-2022 as a significant step towards the elevation of bilateral relations into a strategic partnership in the near future.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez met virtually with their Australian counterparts Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women Senator Marise Payne and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan, MP during the 5th Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) on August 23, 2021.
The ministerial meeting was one of the highlights of the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Australia this year.
In his remarks, Locsin noted that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, “both countries have found ways to maintain and expand cooperation across the full range of our relations.”
Australian Foreign Minister Payne stressed that the Philippines-Australia friendship is anchored by shared democratic values, by ‘Mateship and Bayanihan’, and commitment to peace and prosperity.
“(Both countries) have an important multifaceted relationship, particularly reflected in our strong defense and security ties, our longstanding security program, the strength of our people-to-people links, the work that we do in trade, commercial and economic areas, underpinned by our Comprehensive Partnership,” Payne said.
Cooperation is ongoing between the Philippines and Australia, under the “Partnerships for Recovery” framework. The senior officials acknowledged ongoing development cooperation initiatives, such as Australia’s support for the Philippines’ peace-building efforts in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and in responding to humanitarian crises, as well as promoting post-pandemic economic recovery.
The Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed the engagement in the areas of security, counter-terrorism and in the management of other non-traditional security threats such as cybersecurity, and regional stability.
Discussions also included the creation of new bilateral maritime cooperation mechanisms and the upgrade of maritime law enforcement and domain awareness capabilities.
On the aspect of trade, Lopez and Tehan underscored the role of the PAMM as an important mechanism to foster greater collaboration on two-way trade flows, creating conditions for mutual investment and for businesses to flourish, as well as cooperation in the multilateral trading system.
Both sides agreed to work closely to resolve lingering market access issues, including the elimination of unnecessary barriers to trade.
Australia is an important economic partner of the Philippines, with US$3.6 billion in bilateral trade in 2019, and a total investment stock in the Philippines of A$7.2 billion.
More than 300 Australian companies are operating in the Philippines, employing thousands of Filipinos in the business process outsourcing, infrastructure, banking, telecommunications, energy and education sectors.
On November 18, 2015, the Philippines and Australia signed the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership in acknowledgment of the increasing breadth and depth of Australia-Philippine relations and sets the tone, pace and direction of our relationship in the years ahead.