Home from ‘a harvest of business deals’

Home from ‘a harvest of business deals’

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is scheduled to return today (Wednesday) from a triumphal first of a series of state visits which began on Sunday – three days in Indonesia and one day in Singapore, both co-members in the 43-year-old largely economic bloc Association of Southeast Asian Nations founded in Kuala Lumpur in 1968.

The President himself said the ASEAN swing inaugurated the series of trips he would be making to the country’s friends, partners and allies round the world and put this Southeast Asian republic in a position where Manila has strong alliances and partnerships necessary for it to come out of the post-pandemic economy.

In Indonesia from September 4 to 6, where he addressed 8,000 visibly energetic members of the Filipino community, the 64-year-old President Marcos met up for the first time with President Joko Widodo, three years his junior, and discussed the current state and future of bilateral bonds as well as the changing global environment.

They also witnessed the signing of several bilateral agreements that covered defense and security, creative economy and culture.

The foreign ministers of the two countries were also scheduled to sign the Philippines-Indonesia Plan of Action for the next five years which commits Manila and Jakarta to projects and activities that embrace wide range of bilateral cooperation.

As President Marcos earlier said, the Philippine side also sought the partnership and the help of Indonesian friends, led by President Widodo for investment in areas where the Philippines believes they can be of assistance especially in the critical areas like agriculture and in energy.

In Singapore, home to 200,000 Filipinos who have contributed to the economies of their homeland and their host state, on the invitation of President Halimah Yacob, the Filipino leader spent Tuesday overnight before returning home today.

He had scheduled separate meetings with President Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to renew the Philippine commitment to deepen bilateral ties, explore options for advancing economic ties, as well as discuss regional and global issues.

Singapore has become the Philippines’ top trading partner in ASEAN and the top source of approved investments in 2021.

Official figures suggest economic cooperation with Singapore has grown exponentially for the past 57 years since Singapore became independent on August 9, 1965. President Marcos himself admitted “more opportunities are just waiting to be tapped by both sides.”

The state visits had been aimed at seeking to harness the potentials of the Philippines’ sparkling trade and investment relations.

As such, an economic briefing, business fora and meetings were organized to proactively create and attract more investments and buyers for Philippine exports, to accelerate the post-pandemic growth of the domestic economy.

The President was upbeat when he said “I expect that we will be coming back with a harvest of business deals to be signed in my State Visits that will further strengthen our economic ties with both Indonesia and Singapore.”

Indeed, these initiatives the Philippine delegation undertook have been in line with all of the priority areas the Marcos administration identified: the agricultural sector, the guarantee of food supply, the guarantee of prices — food prices that are affordable to ordinary Filipinos, the long-term plans for energy, and the long-term plans the Philippines has for emergence into the new global economy.

The President has noted that Indonesia has been our ally and one of our closest bilateral partners for the past seven decades.

Beyond that, “the cultural ties and the geographical affinities that we enjoy have always been part of our relationship with Indonesia,” the President said.

As he embarked on this Southeast Asian trip Sunday, he said “We will reaffirm our ties with fellow archipelagic nation and ASEAN co-founder, Indonesia, with whom we share an extensive maritime border in the south of the Philippines.”

Singapore, home to 200,000 Filipinos, has become the Philippines’ top trading partner in ASEAN and the top source of approved investments in 2021.

President Marcos had described economic cooperation with Singapore as having grown “by leaps and bounds for the past half-century, and more opportunities are just waiting to be tapped by both sides.”

The President’s back-to-back visits to Indonesia and Singapore as his inaugural overseas trip has demonstrated what officials called the importance the Philippines places on relations with fellow ASEAN neighbors.

Many are eager to hear the President’s report on his arrival. (ai/mtvn)

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