THE UNITED KINGDOM (UK) on Monday reaffirmed its commitment to work with the Philippines and other partners to keep a rule-based order in the South China Sea.

Britain would continue to support the Philippines through maritime training and joint exercises since it is also a maritime nation, British Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils told a news briefing after meeting with incoming President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

“We’ve been working very closely with the Philippines in the past and we will continue to do so to support maritime law through training and joint exercises,” she said, adding that British vessels were roaming around the waterway.

“We’ll continue to work with all partners in maintaining the international maritime law and United States Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 arbitral award as we move forward in the years to come,” she added.

China has ignored a United Nations-backed arbitral award that invalidated its claim to more than 80% of the waterway, parts of which are claimed by the Philippines.

Mr. Marcos last week vowed to protect Philippine-claimed areas in the sea by engaging China on the dispute, noting that the Philippines under his term would consistently talk to its neighbor “with a firm voice.”

Ms. Beaufils said Mr. Marcos and she had discussed how the two nations could work together on common interests, including the economy and trade. They also talked about Britain’s energy and climate change adaptation programs.

Human rights and press freedom were also discussed at the meeting, she added. 

Aside from Ms. Beaufils, Singaporean ambassador Gerard Ho and European Union envoy Luc Veron also paid Mr. Marcos a courtesy call on Monday.

Mr. Ho said his country expects more Singaporean companies to tap the Philippine market.

“We see a lot of growth potential in the Philippines and we hope to see more and more Singaporean companies coming into the Philippine market,” he said at a separate news briefing.

Mr. Ho said many companies from his country are keen on investing in the Philippines after the passage of several economic reforms, including a Singapore-inspired law that significantly lowered taxes on corporations.

Economists have said the law has yet to generate significant new foreign investments.

Mr. Ho also cited the enactment of bills that lowered the required paid-up capital for foreign retail enterprises and liberalized the Philippines’ public service sector.

“These are all things that would provide comfort to investors when they come here and we hope to see not only these things continuing but as well as making further progress to make the Philippines more attractive,” he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza