RP and Germany Agree to Go Forward on Trade Relations

Article excerpt

The Philippines and Germany sought to improve economic relations, with the foreign ministers saying Thursday that both nations should look past a controversial Manila airport project involving German airport firm Fraport, which remains unresolved after a decade.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a speech after meeting with visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle that both sides are eager to resolve the Fraport problem which has hounded the two nations' relations.

"I must emphasize that this single case should not prevent German companies from working with their Filipino partners to enable them to exploit opportunities in the energy, manufacturing, BPO (business process outsourcing), tourism and other infrastructure projects" in the Philippines, Mr. Del Rosario said.

Mr. Westerwelle. the first German foreign minister to visit the Philippines since 2000, welcomed the recently initiated mediation process to resolve the Fraport claim, which he referred to as a "delicate issue."

"It is in our mutual interest to make progress in this matter... This shouldn't be an obstacle for our economic collaboration," he said.

Fraport was part of the consortium organized by local firm Philippine International Airport Terminal Co., or PIATCO, to build and operate the third terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, or NAIA 3. But the government nullified the PIATCO consortium's contract in 2002 on allegations the group violated Philippine rules, including the anti-dummy law which prohibits foreign firms from managing or controlling a utility company involved in exploiting natural resources. …