THE Philippines and Papua New Guinea signed a bilateral agreement on Wednesday on agriculture with emphasis on rice production.
Philippine Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol and Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Benny Allan signed the Joint Declaration on Agriculture Cooperation in Malacanang.
The signing was witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Duterte welcomed the development, saying that an agreement like this continuously showed “the depth of our desire to bring our nations and peoples closer.”
“Indeed, over the past four decades, we have seen our ties steadily grow. What is different now is that the Philippines and Papua New Guinea want these ties to significantly broaden and deepen our concrete and mutually beneficial cooperation,” Duterte said in his speech.
“The Philippines and Papua New Guinea share a common vision for a progressive future. Amid the challenges of our times, we have only, have true friends to rely on,” Duterte added.
Duterte also said that he and O’Neill “extensively” discussed defense and security cooperation, trade and investment relations, agriculture cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges during their bilateral meeting.
“In the pursuit of greater peace, progress, and prosperity for our peoples, we have realized that we have to do more together to ensure what we want to achieve and the goals reached. There must be translated into actions the sustained projects and tangible results that can be measured,” Duterte added.
These were echoed by O’Neill.
“I appreciate the communiqué that we have signed today between our two ministers to advance again the agriculture relationship between our two countries, particularly in production of the rice fields in our country where we need to ensure that there’s food security for both Papua New Guinea and the Philippines,” O’Neill said.
“We have agreed also to extend the cooperation in technical and development cooperation between our two countries where we want to see the technical skills and capacity of Filipinos who continue to build the economy to a very vibrant economy in the region so that they can also continue to train our people in our country,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill added that the extension of people-to-people relationships was needed and that it was an “indication of the growing relationship between our two countries and the freedoms and the lawful activities that we continue to enjoy as citizens of both countries.”
Duterte also said that he would fully support O’Neill, who was named as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) chairman this year.
“The Philippines is positive that under Prime Minister O’Neill’s leadership, Apec will continue to be an important forum for ensuring sustained and inclusive economic growth and development in the region,” Duterte added.
O’Neill said that the Apec meeting was significantly important to both countries and that he would welcome Duterte to attend the meeting, which would be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea this November.