Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Philippine envoy cites importanceof US-ASEAN summit

President Benigno Aquino III’s presence in the special summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States will show the Philippines’ solidarity with the other ASEAN leaders in promoting regional stability, a Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr.said.

"The summit is an opportunity for leaders of the ASEAN and the US to have candid conversations about issues of mutual concern. It is an important step for the leaders to substantiate their strategic partnership between the US and ASEAN,” Cuisia said.

More to the point, the summit underscores the central role of ASEAN in ensuring stability and prosperity in the region. As a member of ASEAN, the Philippines appreciates the significance of a summit in the development of a regional framework,” he added.

He noted that a summit reaffirms the commitment of the US to continue playing a key role in ensuring the regional security architecture for the 21st century.

The summit is described as “unprecedented” since it will be the first time Obama will be meeting all ASEAN leaders on US soil.

Among the agenda of the summit include the South China Sea, trade, climate change and counterterrorism.

Ambassador Cuisia, meanwhile, underscored that the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the US “have never been better.”

“As we mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Philippine-US relations, we highlight the durability, comprehensiveness, and dynamism of our ties. We have always been supportive of the rebalance to Asia-Pacific policy of the United States as it is an opportunity to deepen further our alliance in various areas of cooperation,” he said.

He said the Philippines intends to be a reliable and responsible ally with the US as both countries have reaffirmed commitment to jointly address maritime security, climate change, and violent extremism, among others.

"Our defense and security arrangement has never been stronger and nor more focused,” he said.

He further noted that the Philippines cooperation with the US in the area of maritime security and maritime domain awareness has actively contributed to the security and stability of the region.

He said the recent approval of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement “will further strengthen our alliance and this will help us in expanding further our capability and it will also help us in our defense modernization efforts.”

Cuisia likewise said the Philippines has likewise expanded its relations with the US in terms of the bilateral economic engagement.

"US is the second largest source of inward tourism, and the US is also the third largest in terms of foreign direct investments in the Philippines,” he said.

He noted that the positive transformation of the Philippine economy as a result of the reform agenda undertaken by the government of President Aquino has made the Philippines a stronger and more attractive partner, economic partner of the US.

He said the Philippines is also working to further enhance economic relations with the US by joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is also likely to be discussed in the summit.

“We are not yet a member of but we hope that with the support of the US and other countries that are presently members of TPP, we will eventually become a member of TPP,” he said.

In the field of development cooperation, Cuisia said the Millennium Challenge Corporation Board selected the Philippines for a second compact.

“As you know, we will be completing the first compact in May and that has helped our efforts in terms of poverty reduction, inclusive growth, infrastructure development, and battling corruption. We hope that the second compact will allow us to leverage on the gains that we have achieved in the first compact,” he said. (PCOO News Release)

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