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Philippines, Vietnam seal deals on South China Sea security, rice

Philippines, Vietnam seal deals on South China Sea security, rice

Philippine President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr (L) and his Vietnamese counterpart, Vo Van Thuong (R), during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on January 30, 2024. NHAC NGUYEN/AFP

HANOI — The Philippines and Vietnam agreed on Tuesday to boost cooperation among their coastguards and to prevent untoward incidents in the South China Sea, in an announcement during a state visit by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Philippines and China have competing claims over some parts of the South China Sea, a conduit for $3 trillion of annual ship-borne trade that China claims almost in its entirety.

The agreement in Hanoi, details of which were not disclosed, could risk angering Beijing, which has deployed its vast fleet of coastguard throughout the South China Sea to police its expansive territorial claims.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said a Memorandum of Understanding on Incident Prevention and Management in the South China Sea and a Memorandum on Maritime Cooperation have been inked between the two countries.

The PCO said under the deal on incident prevention, the two nations agreed to enhance coordination regarding maritime issues bilaterally, within the ASEAN and with other dialogue partners.

Both sides also committed to intensifying efforts to promote trust, confidence, and understanding, through dialogue and cooperative activities.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo signed on behalf of the Philippine government in a ceremony held at the Presidential Palace of Vietnam. 

Meanwhile, the MOU on Maritime Cooperation is aimed at strengthening the understanding, mutual trust, and confidence between the two parties through development of a Joint Coast Guard Committee to discuss common issues and interests between the coastguards of two countries.

‘Strategic partner’

In his bilateral meeting with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, Marcos stressed that Vietnam remains the sole strategic partner of the Philippines in the ASEAN region.

”I am hopeful that this meeting will provide fresh opportunities to reinforce our bilateral relations with the aim of fostering peace and prosperity between our two countries and in the region,” Marcos said.

”While maritime cooperation is the foundation of our strategic partnership, our bilateral relations have spanned various areas of cooperation, such as in defense, trade, agriculture, and culture, amongst others,” he added.

Both Hanoi and Manila have had run-ins with China’s coastguard in the past, but altercations have been frequent in the last year between vessels of China and US-ally the Philippines, adding strain to deteriorating relations.

Earlier, the Philippine Coast Guard told GMA News Online that it has been eyeing to have a hotline with its Vietnamese counterparts to protect, secure, and monitor the fisherfolk of both countries in the resource-rich West Philippine Sea.

PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said the hotline could be the second ”hotline of communication” of the PCG with another country. The PCG’s first hotline of communication is with China.

Vietnam, one of the world’s biggest rice exporters, will also have an agreement with the Philippines, a top importer of the grain, covering rice trade in the next five years, Hanoi’s trade ministry said on Tuesday.

In his address before the Filipino community on Monday night, Marcos stressed the importance of enhancing bilateral agreements with Vietnam.

“Kailangan natin makipag-ugnayan sa kapitbahay natin sa Vietnam, para maging payapa ang South China Se. Maraming nangyayari diyan, mas maganda merong usapan para maiwasan ang gulo,” he said.

Rice

Another agreement was signed on Rice Trade Cooperation, creating a framework for rice cooperation between the Philippines and Vietnam to ensure and establish sustainable supply. 

Under the MOU, Vietnam agreed on a five-year trade commitment to supply white rice to the Philippine private sector, amounting to 1.5 million to 2 million metric tons (MT) per year “at a competitive and affordable price.” 

Ninety percent of the Philippines’ rice imports are supplied by Vietnam. — Reuters with Anna Felicia Bajo and Ivan Mayrina/RSJ/KBK, GMA Integrated News

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/topstories/nation/895817/philippines-vietnam-seal-deals-on-south-china-sea-security-rice/story/ QR Code

Published Date: January 30, 2024

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