Philippines, Singapore Agree to Enhance Defense, Trade and Investment, Labor, Health Cooperation in Bilateral Consultations
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Neal Imperial (left) and Singapore Foreign Ministry Deputy Secretary Ng Teck Hean (right) lead their respective delegations to the 5th Informal Consultations on the Philippines Singapore Action Plan via virtual platform. (DFA-ASPAC Division 3 photo)
MANILA 16 July 2021 — The Philippines and Singapore reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation in defense and security, trade and investments, pandemic response, and the protection of overseas Filipinos in Singapore during the virtual 5th Informal Consultations on the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan (ICPSAP), co-chaired by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific AffairsNeal Imperial and Singaporean Foreign Ministry Deputy Secretary Ng Teck Hean, on 14 July 2021.
Both sides had productive discussions on the developments in Philippines-Singapore bilateral relations, updates on joint cooperation initiatives, and prospective ways to further advance the engagement and collaboration of the two countries.
Trade and investment relations remain robust between the two countries despite the pandemic, with two-way trade amounting to US$ 9 billion in 2020 and Singapore becoming the Philippines’ top investor in 2019. During the meeting, both sides discussed various initiatives to further enhance economic ties and to hasten post-pandemic recovery. One key project discussed was facilitation of the entry of Philippine agricultural products such as egg, poultry, and vegetables to Singapore. This, in turn, will aid Singapore’s bid to diversify its food import sources.
The Philippines invited Singapore to invest in the development of green and smart cities, (particularly in New Clark City), industrial parks and economic zones, clean and renewable energy sources, as well as in waste and water management systems. Acknowledging the global changes with the advent of Industry 4.0 and increasingly digital economies, the Philippines and Singapore agreed to seek synergies and leverage each other’s strengths to promote innovation, support startups and MSMEs, enhance creative industries, improve ICT infrastructure, and cooperate in cybersecurity and data protection.
Singapore recognized the contribution of the more than 200,000 Filipinos in Singapore to its socio-economic development and highlighted the key role of Filipino healthcare workers in its COVID-19 response. The Philippines, in turn, reiterated its proposal for a bilateral labor agreement to further protect and ensure the welfare of Filipino workers in Singapore.
Both sides committed to continue joint efforts to address the effects of the pandemic by sustaining the close cooperation between Philippine and Singaporean health ministries, share expertise in contact tracing and treatment strategies, and begin discussions on the recognition of health certificates for inbound travelers in anticipation of the resumption of travel after the pandemic.
Recognizing that global and regional security issues require a concerted response by partner states, the Philippines and Singapore agreed to intensify coordination and cooperation in the areas of maritime domain awareness, counterterrorism, defense industry development, intelligence exchange, joint military training, and law enforcement. Both sides also tackled pressing regional issues of mutual concern, and committed to closely coordinate and work together to respond to the same.
Held annually at the Assistant Secretary-level, the ICPSAP is the primary bilateral mechanism by which the Philippines and Singapore review the implementation of the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan, a consolidated framework identifying priority areas for mutually-beneficial collaboration in various areas of bilateral cooperation and multilateral engagement. The IC PSAP was last held in Manila in December 2018. The Philippines will host its 6thiteration at a mutually agreed date in 2022. END