Wednesday, September 24, 2014
PNoy and Merkel Meet and Sign 3 Agreements
The Philippines and Germany have reaffirmed deep partnership following the signing of three agreements to bolster cooperation on social security, trade, and skills training for Filipino workers.
The agreements were forged shortly after President Aquino and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks on efforts to enhance bilateral ties between the two countries at the Federal Chancellery.
Aquino is now in Berlin for a two-day official visit that includes meetings with several German companies as well as the Filipino community. This is the last leg of his European trip before heading to the United States this weekend.
“Germany is a key ally, a strategic partner, and a reliable friend of the Philippines,” the President said in a joint press statement with Merkel.
“With this visit, we reaffirm the deep partnership between our countries. By focusing on our mutual interests and our common aspirations and concerns, we are given the opportunity to propel our already robust relationship to even greater heights,” Aquino added. The first bilateral pact involves the “Social Security Agreement” between the Philippines and Germany. Aquino said the agreement would contribute to providing a context of equality of treatment in the workplace. “It will also improve the processing of claims and prevent dual coverage. This will consequently redound to the benefit of both Filipino and German nationals,” he added.
A cooperation agreement signed between the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) will institutionalize regular dialogue and sharing of best practices between the Filipino and German policymakers and experts, according to Aquino.
He said the pact would provide an institutional foundation to expand practical cooperation between respective agencies as well as with the private sector.
The third agreement was the exchange of notes that will formally establish the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Manila to foster greater cooperation in trade.
“The exchange of drafts on the establishment of the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a welcome sign, especially now since the Philippines is indeed more open for business,” Aquino said.
“With this development, we can see enhanced trade and investments, especially among the German Mittelstand (SMEs); it will also establish the cooperation arrangements with, and between, local German Chambers in Germany and the Philippines,” he added.
Aquino said his meeting with Merkel reaffirmed the “strong bond” shared by the two countries. He said the deep relations span a broad range of issues of mutual interest, such as labor, maritime cooperation and training, environment and natural resources management, defense and security training, manufacturing, IT-BPM, and healthcare, among many others.
“We also share the belief that the primary duty of government is to advance the welfare of its citizens. We also believe that the Philippines’ economic resurgence and Germany’s economic strength can only further expand the horizon of opportunities for our peoples,” he added.
At the start of his statement, Aquino said his visit coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Germany.
Aquino said it has also been 25 years since Germany hosted the late President Corazon Aquino during her official visit in 1989.
“Then as now, Germany and the Philippines have stood side by side in upholding our shared values and principles — our adherence to democracy, human rights, inclusive growth and development, and the rule of law,” he said.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to Germany Maria Cleofe Natividad said the President will also be given the “Freedom and Democracy Award” by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation “in recognition of the success of his administration in strengthening democracy in the Philippines and his good governance policy. “
She said the President will meet with top executives of several German companies and try to convince them to do business in the country. Germany has the strongest economy in Europe despite the financial difficulties in the region.
“For the Germans, the Philippines is an exciting business destination. We have good economic statistics. Our economic fundamentals are very strong and good governance is very much prevalent,” she said.
Meanwhile,in a forum organized by the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI) in Paris, the President declared that 2015 will be a “banner year” for the PH and invited investors to be part of the success story.
“We will be entering a demographic sweet spot by 2015, which will last around 35 years. We have been investing in our greatest resource — our people, resulting in an expanding, productive labor force now even more prepared to seize all the opportunities. We have a strategic location, and vast potential to be a crucial hub of trade, investments, and services,” he added.
The country’s economic turnaround is likewise significant since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will merge into an economic community in 2015, he noted.
“This is a milestone in the evolution of ASEAN as we pursue the common prosperity of our peoples and foster the peace and stability fundamental to continued development. Naturally, this opens doors of opportunity to our European friends as well,” the President said.
With the imminent economic integration of ASEAN, Aquino said France and other EU-member nations can find far greater potential for enhanced engagement with the Philippines and the region.
“This is a timely development given the recovery of markets in the Western Hemisphere, increased cooperation can only redound to a healthier global economy, and the promise of further growth and development for all,” he added.
In almost all his engagements in Europe, the President has trumpeted the country’s impressive economic growth since he assumed office in 2010.
From Madrid, Belgium to France, the President highlighted that his good governance efforts have “breathed new life into our economy” as he tried to attract investors to do business in the country.
“There is a French word that perfectly encapsulates the state of the Philippine economy: renaissance,” the President said.
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