Byline: DAVID CAGAHASTIAN
The 32 member-countries of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) yesterday agreed to adopt a more forceful stand on issues confronting both regions, including counter-terrorism and anti-drug trafficking cooperation, and economic issues in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In the two-day FEALAC Ministerial Meetings in Manila, member-countries discussed issues beyond cultural and economic cooperation, focusing on security and political issues.
Ambassador George Reyes, FEALAC spokesman for East Asia, reported that senior officials of the member-countries have put into the Manila Plan of Action agenda the concerns of developing countries, especially those concerning WTO trade disputes.
Reyes expressed optimism that there would be further discussion on the issues today when heads of delegations of the 32 membercountries arrive in Manila for the FEALAC 2nd Ministerial Meeting.
The FEALAC 6th Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) ended yesterday with accomplishment reports from the FEALACs three working groups, and with discussions on elevating the FEALAC to a higher level of cooperation among the member-countries.
During the SOM, the delegates agreed to "send a stronger political signal" to the WTO on the abolition of subsidies developed countries give to their industries.
Reyes said that while there are developed countries like Australia and Japan which are members of the FEALAC, the association is planning to adopt a united front in pushing for a resumption of the Doha rounds of negotiations in the WTO.
"There will be divergences about the Doha round within the FEALAC because some of the members are developed countries. But the consensus will be summed up in the Manila Plan of Action," Reyes said, noting that the FEALAC is mostly composed of developing nations.
There is no official statement yet, however, on the Manila Plan of Action, but Reyes said that the FEALAC is expected to come up with more forceful agreements in maintaining regional security and in pushing for the interests of developing nations in the WTO.
2 separate meetings
The Philippines yesterday held two separate bilateral meetings with Latin American countries Colombia and Chile, at the sidelines of the ongoing Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) in Manila.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Delia D. Albert met with her counterparts from two Latin American countries, Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco and Chilean Foreign Minister Maria Soledad Alvear.