MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines and Belgium signed an agreement that aims to increase bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the fields of trade and investment, immigration and culture, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
The Philippines-Belgium Joint Plan of Action (JPA) was signed by DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Didier Reynders, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and
European Affairs last Wednesday.
The agreement will “enhance trade and investment cooperation, address mutual concerns on immigration, consular matters and law enforcement, and foster sports and cultural exchange,” the DFA said in a statement Friday.
This is the first comprehensive agreement between the Philippines and Belgium in its 67 years of diplomatic relations and is also the first agreement of Belgium with a member country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Del Rosario and Reynders are also planning to have a member of the Belgian Royal Family to come to the Philippines for an economic mission come 2015, DFA said.
According to data from the website of the Philippine Embassy in Belgium, there are 3,067 Filipinos registered with the Belgian National Institute of Statistics.
“Based on the findings of the [embassy] during the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) registration, it appears that a considerable number of Filipinos have become naturalized Belgians and Luxembourgeois over the years. Approximately 60 percent of the Filipinos in Belgium and Luxembourg are females,” it says.
“Problems confronting majority of the Filipino workers population in Belgium are limited employment opportunities, illegal residency status and fraudulent documentation,” it added.
Aside from a very few hotel workers in Belgium and some office workers, overseas Filipino workers in Belgium are generally considered “undeclared, unprotected, and illegal,” the embassy said.