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Australia seeks ‘new level of engagement’ with PH, Palace says

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Australia is eyeing a “new level of engagement” with the Philippines in various areas of cooperation such as economy, education, agriculture, and defense, Malacañang said on Friday.

The commitment was made by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during the second and last day of President Marcos’ visit to Canberra on Thursday, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.

The President returned to the country on Thursday night after his two-day state visit to Australia. In his arrival statement, he said Australia remains one of the Philippines’ closest allies, citing various developments and potential between the strategic partnership of the two nations.BEST MATES. President Marcos shakes hands with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese before leaving Canberra on Thursday night. PPO Photo

President Marcos will return to Australia next week to participate in the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Australia Summit.

“Australia remains, and will continue to be, one of our closest friends. In the spirit of bayanihan and mateship, we shall forge ahead in fully maximizing the potentials and the gains from this Strategic Partnership between our two forward-looking, law-abiding maritime states,” President Marcos said.

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Meanwhile, Garafil said: “The Philippines and Australia are taking a new level of engagement under the framework of the Strategic Partnership, anchored in a common vision of ‘a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.’”

“Albanese noted the two countries have set goals to attain said vision through strengthening economic ties, building connections on education and skills, continuing shared efforts on agriculture research, and deepening cooperation in defense,” she added.

Garafil said Albanese is also confident that there is a “great potential” for growth in the two countries’ trade and investment.

This, as Albanese cited the deepening two-way trade and investment links between the two nations, noting that the Philippine-based company International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) will open this week its new $235-million expanded facilities at the Port of Melbourne in Australia.

Albanese said the ICTSI’s business expansion is “a welcome example” of available opportunities to grow both nations’ economic ties.

Considering that Australia’s economic future lies with Southeast Asia, Albanese said his government is determined to drive growth in trade and investment, in line with the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040.

Garafil said Albanese is committed to continue working with the Philippines to elevate the strategic partnership between the two countries.

“Australia has recognized the Philippines’ potential as one of the fastest growing economies in the Indo-Pacific region noting that the relationship between the two nations could still be enhanced further through the current Strategic Partnership,” she said.

Mr. Marcos also hailed Australia for its continued support to the Philippines and for acknowledging rules-based international order amid the brewing tension in the West Philippine Sea.

“We thanked Australia for its consistent and continuing support in the South China Sea,” the President said. “I conveyed to Australian legislators the important role of both our countries as proponents of the rules-based international order and its significance amidst the present complexities in global geopolitics,” he added.

“In my meeting with Prime Minister Albanese, we explored ways to maximize the strengths and opportunities of our Strategic Partnership,” President Marcos shared.

Mr. Marcos and Albanese signed three agreements centered on maritime cooperation, cybersecurity, and implementation of competition law during Mr. Marcos’ stay in Australia.

“Our discussions on trade, investment, and security shall inform the next steps in implementing and achieving the enhanced cooperation outlined under the framework of our Strategic Partnership,” he said.

“Their support is instrumental in developing an enabling policy environment for the continuous upward orientation of our bilateral relations,” the President said.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline “Stronger friendship with Australia formed as Marcos returns to Manila”

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