4th Philippines-New Zealand bilateral consultations held in Manila
Philippines and New Zealand convened the 4th round of Bilateral Consultations in Manila on 05 August 2014. The Bilateral Consultations is a mechanism where both countries discuss a wide range of issues relating to the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, disaster management and the academic fields.
Chairing the 4th round were Assistant Secretary Minda Calaguian-Cruz, Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines and Mr. Stephen Harris, Divisional Manager of the South and South East Asia Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) of New Zealand.
H.E. Virginia H. Benavidez, Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand, and H.E. Reuben Levermore, New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines, also participated at the meeting.
Assistant Secretary Calaguian-Cruz looked forward to the implementation of the PH-NZ Air Services Agreement, which was signed in March 2014, through the signing of exchange of letters. She affirmed that this would boost the connectivity between the two countries which, in turn, could spur growth in tourism, trade and people-to-people exchange. She also noted the strong relations between the two countries in the field of geothermal energy and proposed further enhancing cooperation in this sector in terms of feasibility studies of low-enthalpy geothermal resources and standardized reporting for the geothermal projects that have been awarded to the private sector.
Mr. Stephen Harris pointed out the growing contribution of the 40,000-strong Filipino community in New Zealand, which now comprises 1% of the population of that country which is helping in New Zealand’s construction, dairy, hospitality and health care sectors. He also noted the significant achievements of the Philippines-New Zealand Dairy Project in CALABARZON and Northern Mindanao, which is slowly becoming the cornerstone of the development cooperation between the two countries, highlighted by the fact that the Philippines was New Zealand’s third largest market for dairy goods by volume in 2013.
In the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), both sides noted the increasing interest of New Zealand companies who are keen on investing in the Philippines in this sector. The meeting noted that the potential in further enhancing links in the BPO sector is very strong to complement the 120 or so New Zealand companies that have already invested in the country.
In the field of defense and security cooperation, both sides expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation between the two countries which will be further enhanced later this year with the holding of the 3rd round of the Philippines-New Zealand Bilateral Defense Talks (BDT) which will be held in Manila on 12-14 November 2014.
Both sides also discussed regional developments such as the South China Sea issue and regional issues related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Southwest Pacific Dialogue (SwPD) and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
The 4th Philippines-New Zealand Bilateral Consultations was attended by senior officials of the Office of the Undersecretary for Policy, Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, Office of ASEAN Affairs, Office of Legal Affairs of the Department of foreign Affairs, Department of Energy, Department of Trade, National Dairy Authority and the Department of National Defense. The Deputy Head of Mission, Trade Commissioner, Immigration Manager, New Zealand Aid Programme Manager and Policy Adviser from the New Zealand Embassy in Manila were also present.
The next round of Bilateral Consultations will be held in Wellington in 2015.