Enrique A. Manalo, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Philippines — DFA.GOV.PH

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

THE FOREIGN affairs chiefs of the Philippines and New Zealand met on Monday and committed to boosting ties in renewable energy (RE) and trade, while finalizing a visiting forces agreement that could be signed by the two states this year.

In a statement, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that Secretary Enrique A. Manalo met with his New Zealand counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, and discussed growing two-way trade, investment, and climate change cooperation.

Security and defense cooperation was also discussed, amid rising tensions with China in the South China Sea, the DFA said.

“We agreed to strengthen our existing mechanisms for cooperation on political, security and defense and labor, and to open new avenues for partnerships in trade and investment that leverage our respective strengths while promoting our national priorities, particularly on renewable energy and combating climate change,” Mr. Manalo said in his speech in Makati City after meeting with Mr. Peters.

A copy of his speech was sent by the DFA to reporters via WhatsApp.

“We reaffirmed our continued commitment to uphold the rule of law as a pillar to achieving peace and security in the region,” he added.

Last April, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met in Manila, agreeing to fast-tracking negotiations for a visiting forces agreement that would allow joint military exercises and humanitarian missions between both countries.

Manila and Auckland plan on increasing two-way trade by at least 50% in the next few years, Mr. Luxon said during his visit.

Tensions between the Philippines and China have worsened in the past year as Beijing continues to block resupply missions to Second Thomas Shoal, where Manila grounded a World War II-era ship in 1999 to assert its sovereignty.

“As fellow democratic nations and responsible members of the international community, we agreed to jointly advance the values that we hold dear in the multilateral arenas, especially in the United Nations,” Mr. Manalo said.