PH, Australia launch first Maritime Dialogue on 75th year anniversary of bilateral ties

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Australia, the two countries inaugurated the first-ever Maritime Dialogue aimed to explore potential partnerships in the protection of the marine environment and the coral reefs, as well as discuss maritime interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

DFA Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Maria Angela Ponce (L) and First Secretary Craid Chittick of the Indo-Pacific Strategy Division of Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at the launching of the virtual Maritime Dialogue on June 10, 2021. (DFA)

Represented by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Maria Angela Ponce, the Philippines expressed appreciation for Australia’s consistency in calling for full compliance with Arbitral Award on the South China Sea arbitration during the virtual dialogue held on June 10, 2021.

Australia was one of the first countries to acknowledge the July 2016 Award handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that favored the Philippine petition to invalidate China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea. .

Most recently, it also supported the Philippine submissions to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in December 2019.

Australia’s First Assistant Secretary Craig Chittick of the Indo-Pacific Strategy Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade conveyed his country’s agreement to partner with the Philippines under its maritime resource initiative which covers marine spatial planning, protection of coral reefs, fisheries management, and the joint conduct of marine scientific research.

Both countries exchanged views and perspectives on the evolution of the Indo-Pacific region, the growing cooperation with partners and allies like the United States and European countries, as well as existing and emerging concerns in the maritime domain.

They also committed to sustaining this new mechanism for dialogue as a venue for exchanging views but more importantly in expanding the scope of maritime cooperation and in further strengthening bilateral relations between both countries.

Early this month, the Philippines expressed its interest in working with the United Nations-backed International Seabed Authority (ISA) on the possible creation of a “legal regime” and contribute to the work of the said agency in managing mineral resources in deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction.