THE LEADERS of the Philippines and Vietnam have agreed to enhance ties in agriculture and defense, particularly maritime security as both nations are claimants in the disputed South China Sea.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh held a bilateral meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Cambodia.
“[They] have agreed to further strengthen their partnership as this will enhance the two countries’ relations across several areas such as defense, trade, investment, agriculture and maritime security,” Malacañang said in a press release.
On the economy, Mr. Marcos noted the increased total trade between the two countries, which has hit almost $6 billion, the Palace said.
“Still, there is a significant trade imbalance between the two nations, which Marcos hopes Vietnam will help address,” it added.
The Philippine leader considers Vietnam — one of the top five rice exporting countries globally — as an important partner in food security as it accounts for 90% of the Philippines’ rice imports, it added.
“In the past few years, we have seen the great success, the great economic success that Vietnam has enjoyed and with that even Filipino investors have started to go to Vietnam to be part of this development in your country, and since then our trade has increased,” Mr. Marcos said.
The Philippines this year reestablished the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Ho Chi Minh, the largest city in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos raised the importance of intelligence and strategy exchanges between the Philippines and Vietnam “given the two nations’ shared maritime interests,” the Palace said.
The Philippine leader also cited the rising tension in Taiwan, which is just 190 kilometers away from the northern islands of the Philippine archipelago, and the instability in Myanmar.
The Philippines is considered as the oldest democracy in Southeast Asia.
“All of these issues are of extreme importance and of extreme urgency. And that is why I believe ASEAN must find common ground from which to face those challenges,” Mr. Marcos said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza