Joint Statement on the official visit to the Philippines of Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong
- The Hon Enrique Manalo, Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs
At the invitation of Secretary for Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo, Senator the Honorable Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, undertook an official visit to the Philippines on 16-18 May 2023.
At their bilateral meeting, Secretary Manalo and Minister Wong positively assessed the state of the Comprehensive Partnership between the Philippines and Australia, shaped by 77 years of close engagement and cooperation and guided by the Philippines-Australia Plan of Action 2021-2022. They discussed the progress and renewed the commitment between the two countries in elevating the bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership.
Secretary Manalo and Minister Wong noted the positive outcomes of recent high-level exchanges between the Philippines and Australia, in particular the meeting between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on 19 November 2022, and the successful visits to the Philippines this year of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles, Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell, and Special Envoy for Southeast Asia Nicholas Moore.
The Secretary and the Minister recognised the two countries’ multifaceted and long-standing partnership, including ongoing cooperation in the areas of defence, maritime, counter-terrorism, peace-building, law and justice, health, science and innovation, disaster risk reduction, education and training cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges, among others.
Secretary Manalo and Minister Wong agreed to enhance trade and investment cooperation, including exploring possible cooperation on critical minerals, and to continue exploring opportunities to improve two-way tourism. Both looked forward to further strengthening people-to-people connections through the Work and Holiday Visa Arrangement being negotiated between the two countries. The Secretary and the Minister looked forward to the convening of the 6th Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) by their Foreign Affairs and Trade Departments to be held in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Building on the already deep and wide-ranging maritime security cooperation between Australia and the Philippines, Minister Wong announced a package of maritime cooperation initiatives, including technical assistance and capacity building for the Philippine Coast Guard; equipment, skills and technology to improve maritime domain awareness and marine protection; assistance to mitigate the environmental impacts of the recent oil spill in Mindoro; and support for women’s leadership in maritime security.
Minister Wong announced that Australia’s Official Development Assistance to the Philippines would increase to an estimated AUD89.9 million in 2023-2024 to support programs including cooperation on shared priorities including inclusive economic growth, education, training and scholarships, disaster and climate resilience, and peace and stability in Mindanao.
This is in addition to an AUD10.95 million commitment to support the Philippines to establish a new immunisation information system and a strengthened laboratory network and surveillance system, addressing disruptions to routine immunisation during the pandemic.
Both sides reaffirmed mutual commitment to supporting the Philippines’ 2027-2028 candidature and Australia’s 2029-2030 candidature for the United Nations Security Council.
The Secretary and Minister exchanged views on the region, including the South China Sea, and agreed on the importance of securing a region that is open, stable and prosperous, where sovereignty is respected and where States operate in accordance with agreed rules and norms. The Secretary and Minister reiterated the importance of all states adhering to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Secretary acknowledged Australia’s strong support for the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award.
Minister Wong reaffirmed Australia’s steadfast commitment to ASEAN centrality and ASEAN-led architecture. The two Ministers welcomed the Quad’s commitment to support a peaceful and stable, rules-based region with ASEAN at the centre, through its efforts to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific as well as support for the implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. The two Ministers look forward to continued transparent discussion on AUKUS particularly on its objective to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
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