MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
11 October 1997
CLOSER RELATIONS WITH THE PHILIPPINES
I am delighted today to announce four new achievements in the growing Philippines-Australia relationship.
Along with Philippines Foreign Secretary, Domingo Siazon, I today opened the first Philippine-Australia Dialogue. This Dialogue, the idea for which arose from my discussions with Secretary Siazon last year, has brought together an impressive group of Philippine and Australian leaders from business, academia, the media and government. The Dialogue is a key vehicle for generating fresh ideas to take the relationship to a higher plain.
I am also very pleased to announce that Australia will organise a "Festival of Australia" in the Philippines, which will form part of the celebrations marking the centenary of Philippine independence in the second half of 1998. The festival will bring to the Philippines the best that Australia has to offer in business, science and technology, education, culture and sport making a unique Australian contribution to the Philippines' centenary celebrations.
Two other initiatives demonstrate growth and confidence in the relationship. The first is a major report by my Department's East Asia Analytical Unit on the Philippines - the first report that the Unit has undertaken on this country. It will assess the Philippines' economic growth prospects and identify bilateral trade and investment opportunities. The report is due for release early in 1998. It will complement the study of Australian investment in the Philippines that my Department is already preparing.
The second is the inaugural round of the Australia-Philippines Bilateral Regional Security Dialogue, which it has now been agreed will be held in Manila on 14-15 November. This dialogue will deepen our security links with one of our major regional partners. It will add to the web of Australia's bilateral strategic and security relationships in the Asia Pacific region and complement both our countries' involvement in the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Relations between Australia and the Philippines are already strong. These announcements today set the relationship on a new, higher trajectory.