The Philippines and Vietnam have agreed on a six-year strategic partnership to enhance cooperation in various areas such as trade and defense.
A joint statement released to media enumerated the agreements reached during President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang and other top officials in Hanoi.
The two countries committed to increase people-to-people exchange, uphold bilateral cooperation mechanisms and effectively implement agreements they have signed.
“On the various aspects of bilateral exchanges, the two Presidents agreed to establish a six-year Action Plan (2017-2022) to guide the implementation of activities in the areas of common interest under this new level of relations,” the statement said.
In the joint statement, the two leaders recalled the strategic partnership signed in November 2015 on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Manila.
The partnership was aimed at “elevating the level and intensity of bilateral exchanges between the two countries” and to “harness advantages for common development and in pursuit of shared strategic interests.”
Both countries are members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Both are also claimants to areas in the South China Sea, which is being claimed mostly by China.
Duterte and Quang also committed promote peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight, as well as unimpeded commerce in the region particularly in the South China Sea.
They sought peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, self-restraint in the conduct of activities, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law.
They also vowed to “work expeditiously for the early adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as well as their position on the Award by the Tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration.”
The two presidents affirmed the value of the Policy Dialogue mechanism linking Vietnam’s defense ministry and the Philippines’ Department of National Defense and called on their top defense officials to find new ways to intensify cooperation.
The two leaders also agreed to implement the Joint Commission on Maritime and Oceanic Affairs and to continue cooperation on fisheries.
They agreed to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Fisheries Cooperation signed in 2010.
Both leaders said they would consider signing a Mutual Recognition Agreement on quality control, management, and safety of agricultural and fisheries products.
They also agreed to consider extending the Memorandum of Agreement on Rice Trade and convene the 2nd Joint Commission on Trade to increase the volume of two-way trade and investment. Both leaders eyed more investments in agriculture, food processing, tourism, and infrastructure.
During the meeting, Duterte and Quang agreed to intensify law enforcement cooperation against transnational crime, especially the trade and trafficking of illegal drugs in the region.