The Philippines and Australia have agreed on Friday to enhance their partnership by elevating their relations from a comprehensive to a strategic partnership that will expand their cooperation in various areas.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese witnessed the signing of the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership (JDSP) and other agreements in Malacañang on Friday during the latter’s official visit to the Philippines.
“The Philippines and Australia share a long history of cooperation and an even longer history of friendship, and it is fitting that we gather here today to commemorate the elevation of our relations from a Comprehensive Partnership to a Strategic Partnership,” President Marcos said during the leaders’ statement.
President Marcos said that the this move is “a very, very important development” for both the Philippines and Australia.
“This signing of the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership signals our mutual commitment to deepening collaboration across a spectrum of areas that are vital to both our countries’ growth and prosperity,” he added.
Albanese said he had constructive meetings with President Marcos capped by the signing of a new Strategic Partnership and other memoranda of understanding (MOU).
“This elevation is an important symbol of the strength of our relationship and our shared commitment to do more together. We discussed strengthening our cooperation on regional and national security. We are going to formalize an annual defense ministers meeting,” Albanese said.
The Strategic Partnership will cover defense and maritime matters, strengthen counter-terrorism and law enforcement, and facilitate deeper cooperation in a range of areas including climate action, education, development, and people-to-people exchanges.
Aside from the JDSP, other outcome documents include the MOU on Work and Holiday Visa Arrangement and on National Soil Health Strategy.
Albanese’s official visit to the Philippines is the first by an Australian head of government in 20 years.
The Philippines and Australia maintain 77 years of friendship, spanning a wide and diverse range of areas, from defense and security to economic cooperation, and people-to-people cooperation.
Australia is the Philippines’ second largest partner in defense and security and one of only two bilateral partners with whom it maintains a status of Visiting Forces Agreement.
It is also the Philippines’ 14th largest trading partner in 2022 and the country’s 11th largest source of total Official Development Assistance (ODA), amounting to US$180 million as of December last year. | PND