Visiting Thai PM, PNoy Advance Trade Relations

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra met Thursday with President Benigno S. Aquino III in her first official visit to the Philippines and agreed to advance bilateral trade and ensure rice exports to the country. Shinawatra, likewise, expressed support to the Aquino administration's Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. "Thailand appreciates the Philippines' high support for Thai investors and willingness to remove some of restrictions on trade and investment. Thailand is also ready to export more rice to the Philippines," she said. "Thailand is ready to provide support to Thai investors who wish to invest in the Philippines under the Public-Private Partnership programs," she added, noting that Thailand recognizes the Aquino administration's efforts against corruption. She said that her visit to the country further enhances the strong bilateral ties between Thailand and the Philippines, which are both poised towards one ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Community by 2015. The Thai Prime Minister said there will be enhanced collaboration between the two countries on the areas of energy, education, disaster risk reduction and management, and in curbing transnational crimes. She said she has tasked Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Towijakchaikul and Thai Ambassador to the Philippines Prasas Prasasvinitchai to follow up on the issues discussed during the extended bilateral meeting. The Thai Prime Minister also extended her condolences to the victims of tropical storm "Sendong" in Visayas and Mindanao in December last year. She thanked the Philippine government for its assistance during the massive Thai flooding last year. "These floods remind us that we must work closely together to protect our people from national disasters," said Shinawatra. President Aquino said he was able to discuss with the Thai leader the Philippines' position on the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, all members of the ASEAN, as well as Taiwan and China, are claiming in whole or in part the Spratly and Paracel islands in the West Philippine Sea. The areas are believed to contain substantial undersea oil reserves. "I reiterated our position that a rules-based approach is the only legitimate way to address the disputes in the West Philippine Sea," Aquino said. He also said that both countries are committed to free trade and investment. "The past year has been very uncertain for many countries around the globe. And now, more than ever, it is imperative that we work together to make sure that our region not only stays afloat, but also makes marked progress over the next few years. The challenge for our neighborhood is to maximize our gains, by strengthening trade liberalization and investment facilitation; and it comforts me that we have a partner like Thailand in this endeavor," he said. …