DFA chief cites improved ties with Vietnam
MANILA, Philippines — While maritime security remained the overarching concern for the Philippines and Vietnam, both nations are aware of the role economics will play in forging peace in the region.
During the 10th meeting of the Vietnam-Philippines Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation in Hanoi on Aug. 1 and 2, Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo and his counterpart Bùi Thanh Son discussed ways to bolster bilateral ties.
Manalo also called on Vietnam’s leader, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, who reiterated his earlier commitment to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion from the current $7.8 billion.
The target has no set deadline, but both countries’ economic growth over the past few years has made it more achievable sooner rather than later.
While Indonesia remains the largest economy in Southeast Asia, Vietnam and the Philippines have been trading places in terms of economic growth.
Vietnam led the region in terms of gross domestic product growth the past two years (6.5 percent to 6.8 percent), but global developments have cut forecasts.
Philippine economic growth for 2023 is projected at a similar 6.0- to 7.0-percent range with even better outlooks for 2024.
“Considering the changing landscape of global security and challenges, the visit also paved the way for the Philippines and Vietnam to explore new areas of cooperation such as the digital economy, renewables, and food security,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement on Friday.
In bilateral talks, both countries agreed to strengthen exchanges and contacts, particularly with President Marcos’ still unscheduled visit to Vietnam and continued cooperation through the Joint Committee on Sea and Ocean Issues, the Joint Trade Sub-Committee, the Joint Working Group on Agriculture, and the Joint Working Group on Fisheries.
Manila and Hanoi for decades have been locked in disputes in the South China Sea, particularly the Spratly Islands, for decades.
Even so, the DFA said the foreign secretary’s visit to Hanoi underscored the robust relations that the Philippines enjoys with Vietnam, particularly in areas such as political, defense and security, economic, maritime cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation.