07 February 2013

Ladies and gentlemen good morning.

PHL GermanyI am pleased to welcome His Excellency Dr. Guido Westerwelle and his delegation. This is the first visit of a German Federal Foreign Minister since His Excellency Joschka Fischer came to Manila in July 2000. I am glad that Dr. Westerwelle could reciprocate my trip to Germany last December 2011.

This visit underscores the importance that we place to our long-standing relations and attest our mutual desire to further enhance our ties. It is significant as both countries prepare for the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2014.

Relations between the Philippines and Germany are very comprehensive and cut across multiple spheres. Ours has a history that is firmly founded on mutual respect and close ties in every level and all fields of cooperation that serve our mutual interests.

It is in this spirit that we convened our bilateral meeting in which we took up the following issues:

 1.Political consultation process

We agreed to hold the inaugural political consultation between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Germany Federal Foreign Office at the sub-ministerial level in Manila this year. The political consultation process, which are intended to be held regularly on an annual basis, will serve as a platform to discuss bilateral issues on a number of issues, including defense and security cooperation, education and cultural relations, labor and migration, trade, tourism and investment and many others. This way, we are able to harness our different agencies to speed up and focus bilateral cooperation towards concrete accomplishments.

 2.GPH-MILF Framework Agreement

I thanked Dr. Westerwelle for Germany’s expression of support to the signing of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. I also expressed appreciation for Germany’s assistance for socio-economic development projects in the areas covered by the Framework Agreement implemented under the 1971 Philippines-Germany Technical Cooperation Agreement and through the EU assistance program.

 3.Economic relations/Fraport issue

I am aware that most of you are eager to find out if we have solved the Fraport issue. The truth of the matter is that this problem is complicated and entails different layers of challenges. While we have not come up with a magical formula that would quickly make the issue disappear I have come to an understanding with Minister Westerwelle that we are looking forward to the positive resolution of the Fraport issue. Indeed, during our talks, we underscored the importance of finding a resolution to the NAIA Terminal III question. We are very optimistic about this considering the openness that both sides have expressed regarding possible options that we could explore.

PHL Germany 2However, 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, tourism and other infrastructure projects under the PPP and other schemes.

We should build on the strong economic partnership we have established in recent years. Philippine-German economic relations remain robust. Germany is our largest trading partner in the EU with bilateral trade amounting to US$3.1 billion in 2011. Germany is also the biggest source of tourists for the Philippines in Europe with 61,193 arrivals for the same year. German foreign direct investments in 2011 stood at US$21.7 million. In addition, Germany is one of the leading sources of official development assistance to support the implementation of development projects in the Philippines.

I highlighted positive developments in the Philippines that should encourage more investments from Germany including, among others, the recent conclusion of negotiations to amend the Philippine-German Double Taxation Agreement, positive grades for the Philippines by international rating agencies, the recent signing of the Philippine-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the robust performance of the Philippine economy and what became the engines of this growth – namely our relentless pursuit of good government and the fight against corruption.

PHL Germany 3

I encouraged German companies to follow the lead of their peers in capitalizing on the positive investment environment in the Philippines and put their capital in the country.

We also lauded the activities of the German Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in promoting bilateral economic relations.

 4.Defense cooperation

Without going to specifics, we welcomed efforts undertaken by the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) and the German Ministry of Defense (MoD) to re-invigorate defense relations. A delegation from the MoD is visiting Manila next week to conduct bilateral discussions with DND officials.

 5.West Philippine Sea (WPS)

I conveyed my appreciation for Germany’s support to the Philippine position towards a peaceful resolution of our territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea. I informed him that the Philippines has filed a Notification and Statement of Claim to initiate arbitral proceedings to clearly establish the sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its maritime entitlements in the West PHL Sea. I asked him to continue supporting the Philippine effort for a peaceful and durable solution to this dispute.

 6.Certification of Filipino Seafarers

I welcome the offer of the German Government to provide assistance in the training and certification of Filipino Seafarers that would allow us to comply with EMSA training and certification standards.

 7.Official development assistance

I conveyed my appreciation to Dr. Westerwelle for Germany’s support of Philippine development through its official development assistance program.

 8.Activities of German foundations

I conveyed appreciation to Dr. Westerwelle for German foundations in the Philippines, including the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Hans Seidel Foundation, Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, that are actively working with Philippine government agencies to promote good governance and the rule of law. These foundations are focused on capacity-building for our justice and law enforcement officials.

PHL Germany 4In addition to these issues, Dr. Westerwelle and I also had a very substantive discussion on other matters including initiatives to employ Philippine nurses in Germany, particularly in specialized services such as in emergency or operating rooms of hospitals.

We also exchanged views on developments in the ASEAN region and in the Middle East and developments in the EU.

Our meeting today was held in an open and cordial atmosphere, with remarkable consensus on the issues reflecting the healthy state and our dynamic partnership and the hopes of an even brighter future for Philippines-German relations.

We are pleased with the excellent state of our bilateral relations. Today, we reaffirmed the friendship between the Philippines and Germany and reiterated our commitment to continue working together to further enhance the multiple facets of our cooperation.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your attention. END