PHL, Thailand vow to strengthen ties on trade, security, education (Business Mirror (Philippines))

President Aquino and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha met on Friday, with the goal of strengthening Philippines-Thailand cooperation on trade and investments and security, as well as people-to-people ties.

Mr. Aquino said the Philippines and Thailand are committed to come up with a memorandum of understanding on Cooperation in Combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, which reiterates our shared belief that our peoples must be protected from dangerous drugs.

As part of our efforts, coordinated operations between Philippine and Thai agencies will be conducted; and, through this process, we look forward to sharing information between our relevant law-enforcement agencies, President Aquino said in a press statement for the first official visit of the Thai leader in the country.

President Aquino assured the visiting Prime Minister that the Philippines is open for business and ready to welcome Thai investors in food and agri-business, construction services, infrastructure, as well as participation in the administration’s flagship private-public partnership (PPP) projects.

This gives us the impetus to work towards further increasing our bilateral trade, Aquino told Prime Minister Chan-o-Cha. We are also pleased to note that Thai investments approved by our investment promotion agencies have more than doubled in 2014.

Aquino added: Your Excellency, the Philippines is open for business and there are many more exciting prospects that Thai investors can explore to take advantage of the Philippines’ growth. These include the areas of food and agribusiness, construction services, and infrastructure and PPP projects.

At the same time, President Aquino said the Philippines is also looking forward to Thailand’s hosting of the sixth meeting of the Philippines-Thailand Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation, which the President described as an excellent platform for our countries to discuss topics of mutual interest, including mechanisms to further enhance our defense cooperation and develop our armed forces.

Mr. Aquino also noted that the two countries strengthened cooperation on defense resulted in the recently signed Terms of Reference for the conduct of various activities between their Armies, and the recently held talks between their Navies. We also look forward to the signing of the Terms of Reference for the Philippines-Thailand Joint Committee on Military Cooperation this year, Aquino added.

As regards fostering people-to-people ties between the two countries, Mr. Aquino said both he and the Thai prime minister recognize that education is of prime importance in developing the abilities of our peoples.

So that they themselves may have the wherewithal to fulfill their aspirations for their families, their communities and the future we share as brother nations. This is the principle behind our continued work toward the signing of the memorandum of agreement on the Exchanges of Professional Teachers. Through this, we will have the opportunity to further enhance the capabilities and competencies of both our Filipino and Thai teachers, the Filipino leader said.

On trade and investment, President Aquino noted that Philippine companies, such as San Miguel Corp., Liwayway Food Industries Co. Ltd., Goldilocks and Monde Nissin have established their presence in Thailand.

Thai enterprises, have, likewise, opened doors of opportunity for my countrymen. Siam Cement Group, Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corp. and the Dusit International are only some of the companies that have active operations here on our shores, Mr. Aquino said. We took note of how these companies have continued to expand in our respective countries, because of the sustained support that our governments and peoples have given them.

President Aquino said Thailand was the Philippines’s eighth-largest trading partner in 2014.

Bilateral trade between our countries has reached more than $5 billion, and more of our people are discovering the beauty of each other’s country through expanded tourism exchanges. Indeed: These reflect the deep affinity between our peoples, one that is the product of centuries of interaction, he said.

In terms of security, the two leaders welcomed the signing of the terms of reference for the working group of the Philippine Army and Royal Thai Army in April this year.

In the same way that the prime minister was instrumental in strengthening the partnership between our Armed Forces during his time as chief of the Royal Thai Army, so too does he continue to work with us in order to forge the kind of defense relations that enables us to serve our peoples in a more holistic manner. We are confident that this agreement will further strengthen our defense and security cooperation for the welfare of our peoples and of our brothers in Asean, President Aquino said.

Mr. Aquino took the opportunity to thank the people of Thailand f or generously extending to the Philippines $100,000 financial assistance and 500 metric tons of rice in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit [local code name Ruby] last year.

Such an action only demonstrates the solidarity of your people with mine. On this note please accept the deepest gratitude of my government and my people, President Aquino said.

Might I also take this opportunity to express our condolences to the people of Thailand for the recent tragedy that occurred in your capital. As always, we, Filipinos, will stand with our brothers, the Thai people, he added. Accompanied by his wife Naraporn Chan-ocha, Prayuth arrived in the Philippines on Thursday night and was set to leave on Friday afternoon.

He was elected prime minister in August last year, months after he launched a military coup against the government. The Thai prime minister congratulated President Aquino for reviving the Philippine economy under the straight path vision.

May I congratulate President Aquino and the government of the Philippines once again in reviving the economy to achieving a continued high growth for the past five years, Prayuth said in a joint media statement after the bilateral meeting between him and President Aquino in Macalanang.

I’ve learned from the newspaper today that during the second quarter of this year, the Philippines achieved the growth of 5.6 percent. As a result, the Philippines is praised by the international community as the new ‘rising star’ of the region. I am confident that the vision laid by President Aquino will serve as an important foundation in guiding the Philippines toward greater prosperity in the future, he added.

Prayuth said both he and Mr. Aquino are pleased with the close and comprehensive relations.

We shared the view that as Thailand and the Philippines advance toward the seventh decade of our relations and the formation of the Asean community this year, we should work even more closely together to enhancing the Partnership for Prosperity between Thailand and the Philippines and strengthening the Asean community at large, he said.