Statement by President Ferdinand R. Marcos for the Call with Vietnamese Prime Minister H.E. Pham Minh Ching

Event Grand Hall, Government Headquarters, Vietnam
Location Call with Vietnamese Prime Minister H.E. Pham Minh Chinh

Your Excellency, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, I am delighted to have finally been given the opportunity to come and visit Viet Nam after all the discussions that we have had, I think that maybe the others do not realize how much work went into this before we [inaudible] many times on the sideline of ASEAN and the APEC meetings that we had discussed.

It is— I think it is extremely important that those discussions have borne fruit and that we now have our— we now have agreements that we have discussed in more and more detail as our meetings progress.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to look into the ever-evolving relations between our two countries. Our discussions on the sidelines of the past three ASEAN Summits have established the foundation of that— of this visit today.

I am [inaudible] chance to meet with you now and explore the progress in the relations between Viet Nam and the Philippines. I’m honored to have the opportunity to visit this beautiful country, I wish to express my appreciation for the warm reception that you have— that we have received from your Government and from your people.

I would also like to extend my well wishes to you and the Vietnamese people on the upcoming celebration of the Tet holiday.

Earlier I had the honor to meet with President. The meeting highlighted our vast areas of cooperation, as well as new developments in our respective countries which will help in opening doors for the deepening of our ties. I hope that the discussions that we have today will further affirm our intention to strengthen our partnership in the coming years. Thank you very much for this opportunity and I wish to once again, thank you for the very hard [inaudible] work that you have put in to make this all possible.

So, allow me to to present you with the latest updates regarding the advancements in the Philippine economy. I am happy to share that the Philippines’ economic outlook remains positive, and that our agencies are working to encourage foreign businesses to take advantage of the government’s policy reforms and initiatives.

In the third quarter of last year, the Philippine economy grew by 5.9%. And with this growth rate, the Philippines is considered one of the stronger major economies in Asia.

Furthermore, our Ratings, the Fitch Rating affirmed the Philippines’ “BBB” rating, which is a notch above the minimum investment grade, and has kept the outlook as “stable,” citing the Philippines’ strong medium-term growth prospects and declining government debt to GDP ratio.

This reflects the Philippine government’s efforts to implement structural economic reforms, including the enactment of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code last December, which will streamline the PPP processes and eventually address the Philippines’ large infrastructure gaps.

The emergence of information and communications technology gave rise to fresh business models and groundbreaking products and services, notably through the growth of e-commerce and digital payment system. In 2022, the Philippines was considered as the— by the annual e-Conomy Southeast Asia report as one of the fastest growing digital economies among major ASEAN members, and it is expected that the gross-merchandise value (GMV) of $22 billion in 2022 will grow to 35 billion in 2025.

The Philippines is committed to becoming a reliable partner in digital transformation, with a future-ready workforce who are ready to embrace technologies from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

To support this, we have created the Philippines Science, Technology, and Innovation-driven Industrial Strategy for 2022 – 2028, and the E-commerce Philippines 2022 Roadmap aimed to drive the Philippines’ Digital Economy to hit the gross merchandise in value of over USD 100 billion by 2030.

We also pay close attention to involving our Micro, Small, and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs), which constitute the very large majority of the businesses in the Philippines, and I think it is the similar situation for all our countries in ASEAN.

We hope to work closely with Viet Nam in maximizing the use of technology and developing our countries’ infrastructure for digital transformation in order to take full advantage of its positive impact in our economies.

On trade and investments, I can see many, many opportunities for our two countries to explore. The Philippines is committed to enhancing and fortifying our economic, trade, and investment ties with Viet Nam. Our objective is to expand our bilateral trade which stands at just about $ 7 Billion, today, to expand that to $ 10 Billion by exploring untapped resources. And in time hopefully the balance between our imports and exports will move to a more equitable ratio.

As the Philippines’ 11th largest trade partner globally, and the 5th largest trade partner in ASEAN, we hope to capitalize on our countries’ ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP to maintain the upward trend in our trade.

The Philippines is very encouraged in establishing a close partnership with Viet Nam to streamline trade and investment procedures, reduce trade barriers, and cultivate a transparent and predictable business environment that promotes fair competition and mutual growth and development.

I appreciate Viet Nam’s readiness to support the Philippines’ rice requirements. Especially coming from the pandemic, we recognize the importance of food security and sustainable global supply chains.

I am pleased that we have signed and exchanged— we exchanged the Memoranda of Agreement on Rice Trade Cooperation and Cooperation in Agriculture and Related Fields.

We likewise welcome the signing of agreements between state-owned and private companies on rice trade.

Regarding defense cooperation, I strongly advocate for enhancing and conducting a high-level exchange, information sharing, educational initiatives, and training exchanges between our respective armed forces, amongst other measures.

I’m optimistic that we can successfully finalize our negotiations for the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the Provision of Mutual Logistic Support, and focus on mutually enhancing our nation’s defense and security capabilities.

On maritime cooperation, a very important subject for our— both our maritime nations, I am pleased with the signing of the Philippines-Viet Nam Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Cooperation. This Memorandum aims to establish a comprehensive partnership between our Coast Guards on capacity building, training, and personnel and ship exchanges to enhance interoperability operations between our two countries.

The Memorandum of Agreement on Search and Rescue at Sea signed in 2010 between our coast guards should be reviewed to enhance cooperation through liaising capability, coordination through skills development of our coastguards, amongst others, with the objective of conducting a collaborative exercise sometime in this year.

The Memorandum of Agreement on the Establishment of Hotline Communication Mechanism signed in 2011 between our coast guards should be strengthened through the use of digital platforms.

On the South China Sea, I am pleased that our Ministries of Foreign Affairs have signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Incident Prevention and Management in the South China Sea. I hope that we can seriously implement this agreement as quickly as we can.

I acknowledge the interest of Viet Nam in pursuing a Joint Submission on the Extended Continental Shelf to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

The Philippines is willing to work with Viet Nam for a joint submission at the appropriate time.

When it comes to climate change, there exist opportunities for collaboration in addressing pressing challenges that negatively impact food security as a result of these environmental issues.

Recognizing the vulnerability of both our nations to Climate Change, I am eager to collaborate with Viet Nam on projects focused on mitigating land-based and [marine] pollution.

Furthermore, I am excited about the prospects of pursuing low carbon growth and engaging in joint research initiatives. Considering the adoption by the COP28 of a Loss and Damage Fund, the Philippines is extending an offer to host the Board of the Loss and Damage Fund and grant it the requisite legal personality and capacity to fulfill its duties.

This offer to host the Board of the Fund is in line with the Philippines’ long-standing engagement on discussions of this Fund for the past decades, and our belief that all States must contribute to the success of its institutional architecture.

We hope for the support of Viet Nam in our bid to host the Board of the Lost and Damage Fund.

The Philippines also recognizes that saving the environment is an existential issue that demands concrete, innovative, and immediate solutions. Thus, the Philippines welcomes an approach to economic development that maximizes all of its produces use in a manner that reduces further consumption of natural resources.

I believe that a circular economy is an important component for achieving sustainable economic growth and mitigating carbon emissions in ASEAN.

As such, the Philippines hopes for the full implementation of the ASEAN Framework for Circular Economy, starting with the different sectors depending on each country’s circumstances and capabilities.

The Philippines is committed to the development of a circular economy policy that aims to tackle plastic waste, and is working on an alternative model for managing such waste. Moreover, considering the growing demand for responsible consumption and production, the Philippines is committed to engaging our Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as they shift to greener practices.

The Philippines’ efforts to strengthen our countries’ program and policies to implement a circular economy are essential in developing the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, as we move towards a just energy transition, the Philippines welcomes potential partnership with Viet Nam in establishing a secure, sustainable, and resilient energy for our countries.

I’m happy to say that in this particular subject, we have made a good start with some of the private sector, participants from Viet Nam to the Philippines and those discussions will continue and I wish it all the success because it is such an important issue.

I’m hopeful that we can engage in the exploration of business opportunities, and exchange of technology, enhancement of capacity, and collaboration on projects related to biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal energy, and the offshore wind industry, amongst other areas.

Further to this, the Philippines aspires for electric vehicles to penetrate 10% of our road transport by 2040, leading to a five percent (5%) aggregate energy savings from oil and electricity. With the Philippines’ implementation of a Comprehensive Roadmap and the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA), we hope to drive the growth of the Philippine EV industry.

These transitions will be a long-term multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder process, which needs the strong support of both the private and public sectors. With our cooperation and the rest of ASEAN Member States, I am certain that we can make the circular economy a reality for us in order to save our region’s natural resources and growing economies.

I trust that Viet Nam would be the Philippines’ willing partner in this endeavor, and we are eager to learn from Viet Nam and from your good experiences.

Another important area of our relations is people-to-people relations. To further our education cooperation, we would like to continue promoting exchange programs among for our students, faculties, and researchers, especially in agriculture.

It is something that is very vibrant partnership in that–there are several, there are many exchanges in terms of research and development. We up to the Philippines plays host to the International Rice Research Institute for which we both our countries have done a great deal of work and the transfer of technology is going to be the way of the future if we are to improve the situation as is stands.

On tourism, I am pleased to note that the Implementation Program of the Agreement on Cooperation on Tourism for 2024 to 2028 is close to finalization.

I am very excited by the extension of air services between our key destinations, and I believe that it will greatly contribute to the growth of both economic activity and interpersonal relationships.

In culture, the signing of the Executive Programme on Cultural Cooperation for the period 2024 to 2028 should enhance the cultural collaboration between our nations. This will be achieved through exchanges of publications, exhibitions showcasing arts and culture.

This will also encourage [an] exchange of information among our esteemed experts, researchers, and professors.

As we endeavor to promote closer ties amongst our peoples, I wish to also affirm the Philippines’ commitment to Viet Nam in protecting all of these ties that we have established and would establish in the future. This includes addressing human trafficking in the region, which has recently spiked in the past years.

On regional and international issues, the South China Sea remains to be a point of contention. The Philippines’ position on the South China Sea has been consistent, clear, and firmly anchored in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In my State Visit to China last year, I reaffirmed with President Xi that maritime issues should not constitute the sum total of our relations, and that we should work to enhance our comprehensive strategic cooperation.

However, their continues— there continuous to be—the undertaking unilateral and illegal actions that violate our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, and exacerbate tensions in the South China Sea.

As a concrete example, on 10 December last year, the China Coast Guard once again used a water cannon and damaged a Philippine vessel that was undertaking a legitimate and routine resupply mission in the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal. This closely followed a similar incident which happened in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal.

We are firm in defending our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction against any provocations. But at the same time, we are also seeking to address these issues with China through peaceful dialogue and consultations as two equal sovereign states.

In my conversation with President Xi on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting last November, I stressed to the President, that need to de-escalate tensions in the South China Sea, to which he agreed.

We are committed to work in partnership with other like-minded states to ensure a rules-based international order in the Asia-Pacific region governed by international law.

Our support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific as the foremost regional framework and as the architecture for collective peace, stability and prosperity remains steadfast.

As maritime nations, we share a similar assessment of the current state of our regional environment with other maritime nations of the Asia-Pacific. Our countries have crucial roles to play in shaping the regional security discourse and in upholding the rules-based international order.

I wish to also stress that the Philippines has an independent foreign policy. The Philippines considers both the United States and China as key actors in maintaining peace and security, as well as economic growth and development in the region.

The US is the Philippines’ only treaty ally. And as such, we continue to pursue military cooperation with the US to strengthen our defensive capability and our ability to respond to humanitarian crises and disasters.

The Philippines is greatly concerned over tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Any conflict in Taiwan is certain to affect the northern territories of all the Philippine’s archipelago, and it may compromise the safety and wellbeing of Filipinos who have made their lives in Taiwan. I understand that Viet Nam as well has a sizable population in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, as fellow ASEAN members, our two countries wish for the return to peace and stability of Myanmar. We support the Five-Point Consensus, and the efforts of Lao PDR as the now sitting Chair of ASEAN.

We believe that other ASEAN Member States, should they wish, can engage with Myanmar stakeholders but in doing so, they must coordinate with the Chair, and their objectives should be consistent with the Five-Point Consensus.

I take note that Thailand has made a proposal during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat on providing humanitarian assistance to Myanmar. I believe that they have already communicated this with the ASEAN Chair and the Special Envoy.

Lastly, we are very much concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis now in Gaza and in the rest of the Middle East. It is important that the UN continues to play a role in addressing the situation.

The Philippines supports the efforts of the United Nations to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance and essential supplies to Palestinian civilians caught in the midst of the conflict in the Gaza Strip. We also continue to support UN peacekeeping missions in the region.

And so we urge all parties to exert restraint to prevent the escalation of the conflict and that the Philippines supports the immediate ceasefire in Gaza seeing as we have over 2 million Filipino Nationals in the region.

The Philippines firmly supports a two-state solution, consistently aligned with the past international agreements and relevant UN resolutions.
Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve a future where their rights, aspirations, and security are recognized and upheld.

We are also concerned with the escalating violence in the region, especially in Lebanon and in the Red Sea where at the moment we have 17 Filipino hostages who were taken to Yemen whilst they were serving on a ship that was traversing the Red Sea.

The Philippines stands ready to work with other countries towards a long-lasting resolution to the conflict in accordance with pertinent UN Security Council Resolutions and general principles of international law.

On candidatures, the Philippines wishes to thank Viet Nam for its confirmed support for the Philippines’ bid to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member for the term 2027 to 2028, with a confirmed arrangement of reciprocal support with Viet Nam–for Viet Nam’s UNSC for the term 2020 to 2021.

Meanwhile, we will strongly consider Viet Nam’s upcoming candidatures for seats in international organizations.

So, again, we affirm my utmost gratitude for [inaudible] inviting me to be part of this visit to your beautiful country.

Thank you very much.

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