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July 2024

Philippines, Cambodia to boost rice trade, defense ties


President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet for a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Melbourne, Australia on Monday, March 4, 2024. Joining the meeting are House Speaker Martin Romualdez, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. and other officials. NOEL B. PABALATE/PPA POOL

MELBOURNE, Australia — President Ferdinand ”Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet agreed to boost rice trade between the Philippines and Cambodia.

According to the Presidential Communications Office, Marcos and Hun had a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit where they highlighted ongoing efforts to tackle double taxation and improve the ease of doing business.

Marcos said some of the memoranda of understanding with Cambodia have already lapsed, noting that the two countries need to look back into these deals.

“When I visited you in Cambodia last time, that subject that we were talking about. We were preparing for this drought. It’s now happening,” Marcos told Hun.

“It caught our attention. We really should look into it. Something that is necessary now. That’s the lesson learned from pandemic. We really have to be flexible in looking to our suppliers,” he said.

Marcos also told the Cambodian leader about improving the palay [rice] production in the Philippines.

He said the country still needs to import to secure its rice inventory and one area to explore and strengthen the supply is to improve its ties with other rice-producing countries like Cambodia.

The leaders also discussed expanding flight connections for improved accessibility to the countries’ premier tourism destinations.

Hun said he likes to have more discussions on connectivity as well as increasing the number of tourists from Cambodia to the Philippines and vice versa.

“We now have flights, five times, Cambodia to NAIA,” Hun said.

Marcos told Hun that the Philippine government has contracted a group to modernize and improve the efficiency of the airport in Manila. He added that the government is also developing other regional airports closer to tourist spots to encourage travelers to come to the Philippines.

“We are also encouraging flights to regional airports. I think that is what we keep hearing, low hanging fruit. I’m sure Filipinos will be interested. I count myself. I am interested to go in… travel in Cambodia,” the President said.

“We have done little yet to explore. I fully agree. That’s for two countries, an advantage for us. I’m very much open for that. We will try to see, when I get back, which regional airports are ready to take international tourists and visitors. And I will be glad if we could increase the volume of exchange… tourism, travelers, and even business,” he added.

Marcos and Hun also agreed to strengthen defense ties to address mutual security concerns.

Asked for details about Marcos and Hun’s discussion on defense ties, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año told GMA News Online that the talks were ”very substantial and productive.”

He did not elaborate.

Aside from Cambodia, Marcos will also have a bilateral meeting with New Zealand on Tuesday. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News QR Code

Published Date: March 4, 2024

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