Saturday, June 22, 2013

PHL-Thailand sign three cooperation agreements

The Philippines and Thailand on Friday signed three agreements aimed at increasing economic cooperation between the two Southeast Asian neighbors.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Thai counterpart Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who is on official visit to country to attend the two nations’ Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation, signed agreements on taxation, trade and energy.

The Convention on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income is expected help facilitate economic activities between the PHL and Thailand.

Both sides have also agreed to establish an Energy Forum to further advance cooperation in the energy sector while a Memorandum of Understanding on the Development of Cooperation between the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce Industry and Banking is seen to promote collaboration on trade and investment between the Philippine and Thai companies.

During the meeting, Del Rosario and Surapong provided updates on the political and economic developments in their respective countries.

Other topics discussed were trade and investment, technical cooperation, education, tourism, and transportation, law enforcement and legal cooperation, defense and labor.

The two ministers likewise exchanged views on regional and international issues including disputes in the South China Sea, amid heightened territorial conflicts involving Association of South East Asian Nations’ four members – Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia – and neighboring China over the resource-rich waters, of which Taiwan is also a claimant.

Thailand is this year’s head of rotating chairmanship of the ASEAN-China dialogue.  

The South China Sea, home to a cluster of islands, shoals, reefs and coral outcrops that straddle one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is known as West Philippine Sea in the Philippines.

China has claimed the waters and its features in its entirety on historical grounds and has stepped up efforts this year to strengthen its claims, provoking protests from the Philippines, Vietnam and other claimants.

The ASEAN, a bloc of democratic, socialist and aristocratic states formed in the Cold War era, also consists of Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia. Laos and Myanmar.

ASEAN, which is targeting a European Union-style integrated economic community by 2015, represents a market of more than 600 million people with a combined Gross Domestic Product of $2.7 trillion.

In his closing remarks, Del Rosario thanked Surapong and the members of the Philippine and Thai delegations for the success of the JCBC, the fifth to be held by the two countries since it was established in 1992.

“I hope we can build on this positive momentum and actively work together in realizing our commitments. Thailand remains a close friend and an ally of the Philippines,” Del Rosario said.

Thailand will host the next meeting of the JCBC in 2015.-GMA News

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