By Genalyn Kabiling
The Philippines and Papua New Guinea have agreed to boost bilateral cooperation on agriculture, aquaculture, and agri-business development in a bid to help ensure food security.
The Joint Declaration on Agricultural Cooperation between the two countries was signed after President Duterte held talks with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Malacañang on revitalizing economic and trade relations and exploring new areas of cooperation.
“We are pleased to have witnessed the signing of a Joint Declaration of Agricultural Cooperation with emphasis on rice production,” President Duterte said in a joint press statement with O’Neill in Malacañang.
“We have asked our relevant officials to negotiate and conclude at the soonest possible time an agreement that will bring our bilateral agriculture cooperation to the modern era, one that will truly be transformative and a hallmark of genuine partnership,” he added.
Under the joint declaration, the two countries agreed “to expand and strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of agriculture and agro-industries, particularly in areas such as rice grains and industrial crops production; aquaculture and inland fish farming; livestock breeding and improvement; and agri-business development particularly in the area of rice production, grains and industrial crops.”
Duterte said he and O’Neill agreed that “we have to do more together” to attain their goals in pursuit of greater peace, progress, and prosperity for the people. “There must be translated into actions the sustained projects and tangible results that can be measured,” he added.
O’Neill, on the second day of his three-day official visit to Manila, also hailed the agreement between the two nations to elevate cooperation in the field of agriculture particularly on rice production.
“I appreciate the communiqué that we have signed today between our two ministers to advance again the agriculture relationship between our two countries, in particularly in production of the rice fields in our country where we need to ensure that there’s food security for both Papua New Guinea and the Philippines,” he said.
Apart from agricultural cooperation, the two leaders also tackled defense and security cooperation, trade and investment relations, and people-to-people exchanges.
O’Neill said they also agreed to strengthen the bilateral relationship and continue to build on trade and investment between the countries.
He said the two nations also agreed to enhance cooperation in technical and development cooperation, particularly in training exchange. “We want to see the technical skills and capacity of Filipinos who continue to build the economy to a very vibrant economy in the region so that they can also continue to train our people in our country,” O’Neill said.
Duterte agreed that he looks forward to broadening of ties between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
“Indeed over the past four decades, we have seen our ties steadily grow,” he said. “What is different now is that the Philippines and Papua New Guinea want these ties to significantly broaden and deepen our concrete and mutually beneficial cooperation,” he added.
He recognized O’Neil as one of the country’s true friends, citing they both share a vision for a progressive future.
“Amid the challenges of our times, we have only — have true friends to rely on. Certainly, this Official Visit proves that Prime Minister O’Neill is one such leader, and for that, his visit will always be remembered,” he said.
Duterte also expressed his full support for Papua New Guinea’s chairman of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit this year.
Duterte said he was certain that under O’Neill’s leadership, APEC will continue to be an important forum for ensuring sustained and inclusive economic growth and development in the region.
O’Neill in turn thanked the President’s confidence and the support for Papua New Guinea’s hosting of APEC. This is the first time Papua New Guinea will host APEC since its membership 21 years ago.
“It is a regional economic bloc, significantly important to both our countries and the 21 leaders of those APEC economies will be in Port Moresby in November 2018 and we will certainly welcome the President to be with us on that occasion,” he said.