by Manny Diel
The Philippines is hosting the 4th Ministerial Meeting between the Philippines and Australia in Manila from 20 to 21 February. The Australian Government is represented by the Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and the Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb while Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario and Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo.
Amongst the areas of discussion are regional and global developments and priorities, areas of mutual interest and cooperation in international relations and trade.
There will also be a private dialogue between representatives of the private sector and trade ministers as part of the two day event.
It is anticipated that there will be a lot of positive results emanating from meeting considering that Australia is one of the Philippines’ closest bilateral partners in the Asia-Pacific Region . Australia is one of the top three countries with a record Foreign-aid grants to the Philippines.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the PAMM began as the Philippines-Australia Dialogue in 1997 and was upgraded to a joint Ministerial Meeting in 2005. The joint Meeting sets the direction and vision of Philippines-Australia bilateral relations and serves as the forum to discuss initiatives and activities to strengthen the bilateral partnership.
The 3rd Ministerial Meeting was hosted by Australia at the Parliament House in Canberra on 16 June 2011 and both countries were represented by the Former Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Trade Minister Craig Emerson and the same representatives from the Philippines. Amongst the areas covered at that time were Trade and Investments, Peace Process, Defence and Security Cooperation, Cooperation on counter-terrorism and Development of Cooperation in the Region.
Other positive sign is Premier of NSW Barry O’Farrell’s first official State Visit to Manila and is scheduled to meet President Aquino and government leaders to discuss trade and investment between NSW and the Philippines. In 2012 to 2013, the bilateral merchandise trade by NSW and the Philippines is healthy, worth almost A$636 million and is expected to grow. Areas of interest are education, migration and tourism. In Australia, majority of quarter of a million Filipinos live in New South Wales and the Filipino community is acknowledged for its important contribution in its socio economic development and the social fabric.
Congratulations to the 17 year old Michael Christian Martinez of Paranaque City for making history as being the first Filipino to qualify and for finishing 19th in the finals of Figure Skating at Sochi Winter Olympics 2014.