Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR140221: Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting - Joint Ministerial Statement

Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting: Joint Ministerial Statement

The Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the Hon Albert del Rosario, and Secretary of Trade and Industry, the Hon Gregory Domingo, met with the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, on 20 February 2014 for the Fourth Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting.

The Secretaries and Ministers reaffirmed the steadfast friendship between the Philippines and Australia and agreed to work collaboratively to promote economic growth and new business opportunities and advance common objectives for the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

Economic co-operation

The Secretaries and Ministers agreed that the Philippines and Australia should co-operate to increase bilateral trade and investment, and to support the Philippine Government’s reforms to create a more resilient, vibrant and competitive economy. The Secretaries and Ministers welcomed the participation of high-level business delegations from Australia and the Philippines at PAMM-related business events, and noted the importance of private sector engagement to drive the economic relationship forward. The Secretaries and Ministers also recognised the important role of the business chambers in promoting the expansion of trade and investment.

The Secretaries and Ministers agreed to:

  • Encourage the private sector to explore new opportunities for trade and investment in light of the strong economic growth in the Philippines and the sustained strength of the Australian economy.
  • Provide an enabling environment for trade and investment by streamlining business regulations, boosting productivity and competitiveness, promoting greater utilisation of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), and ensuring frequent government dialogue to address trade and investment concerns.
  • Share Australian experience to assist the Philippine Government deliver on its major infrastructure agenda and assist in post-typhoon recovery and reconstruction.
  • Build on strong co-operation in agriculture and market access that has yielded improved import protocols for Philippine mangoes and Australian fresh fruit, and better opportunities for farmers.
  • Continue Australia’s support for the Philippines’ development of its Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) framework to further ensure that the supply of qualified skilled workers meets industry needs.
  • Explore the viability of a Senior Officials’ Trade and Investment Dialogue to review progress in supporting growth in the bilateral commercial relationship.
  • Share Australian experience to support the development of responsible mining in the Philippines.
Development co-operation

The Secretaries and Ministers recognised the importance of development cooperation between the two countries and reaffirmed their commitment to pursue shared national interests of greater economic growth, stability and security for the region.

The Philippines expressed deep appreciation for Australia’s immediate response and early recovery to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), with the extension of over AU$100 million to date in aid, including the provision of an Australian medical team, and the deployment of Australian Defence Force personnel and equipment.

The Secretaries and Ministers agreed to:

  • Confirm Australian aid to the Philippines at AU$170 million in 2013-14, in recognition of the serious recovery and reconstruction challenges following Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
  • Focus the Australian aid program on the agreed priorities of the Australian and Philippine Governments as they seek to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and enhance stability through partnering for education reforms, enhancing the foundations for sustained economic growth, promoting better disaster preparedness, improving conditions for peace and security and building stronger institutions for accountable and inclusive development. 
  • Further our education partnership through the AU$150 million Basic Education Sector Transformation program. This will support the introduction of the K to 12 Basic Education Program, transforming children’s lives and supporting efforts to harmonise education standards across ASEAN.
  • Contribute an additional US$2.5 million from Australia to expand Public Private Partnership projects to deliver better services to Filipinos and increase private sector investment in key infrastructure projects. This will enhance the engines of economic growth by connecting people to markets through vital infrastructure.
  • Continue cooperation on the Philippines’ long-term reconstruction and recovery efforts. At the same time, promote long term and better disaster preparedness to mitigate the social and economic shocks of disasters.
  • Strengthen the governance of public institutions, including by helping embed economic and public finance reforms, and improve opportunities for women and girls to benefit equally from economic growth.
Defence and Security co-operation

The Secretaries and Ministers agreed that the Philippines and Australia would maintain and deepen bilateral co-operation on defence and security matters, following the entry into force of the Philippines-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) in 2012.

The Secretaries and Ministers noted the SOVFA’s successful implementation via training in Australia for Philippine defence personnel and the deployment of Australian Defence Force assets and personnel to support Typhoon Yolanda relief operations.

The Secretaries and Ministers agreed to:

  • Continue annual meetings of the Joint Defence Cooperation Committee.
  • Convene Bilateral Counter-Terrorism Consultations in the first half of 2014.
  • Maintain the excellent level of co-operation between Australian and Philippine agencies on counter-terrorism issues, and develop new areas of collaboration to support Philippine capabilities.
  • Enhance the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the bilateral defence cooperation program focussing on maritime security, counter terrorism, bilateral and multilateral exercises, and education and training. 
  • Promote the establishment of a memorial to recognise Australia’s contribution to the Liberation of the Philippines and the Australian personnel who gave their lives.
Peace Process

The Secretaries and Ministers welcomed the conclusion of the negotiations of the Annexes to the Framework Agreement that will lead to the signing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The Secretaries and Ministers agreed to:

  • Provide an additional AU$6 million from Australia to support the peace process and boost institutional capacity to implement the Agreement.
  • Continue Australia’s support for the Independent Commission on Policing, and explore the development of effective law enforcement in the new Bangsamaro.
Regional co-operation

The Secretaries and Ministers agreed that the Philippines and Australia would support efforts to increase co-operation in ASEAN, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

They agreed to:

  • Increase engagement on regional cooperation, including the holding of the 2nd Senior Officials’ Strategic Dialogue in June 2014.
  • Reaffirm their commitment to work together to build the EAS as a key regional institution for strategic dialogue. 
  • Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Australia relations in 2014, including the holding of an ASEAN-Australia Leaders’ Summit in the margins of the EAS in Myanmar. 
  • Continue to encourage all parties to clarify and pursue territorial claims and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea peacefully and in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and reiterate support for closer ASEAN-China negotiations for the early conclusion of a substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. 
  • Strengthen humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness in the region.
  • Collaborate to take forward issues of mutual interest during the Philippines’ host year for APEC in 2015. Australia offered the secondment of an officer to the Philippine Government to support the host year.
  • Work together to ensure the negotiation of a high quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • Co-chair the second ARF seminar on UNCLOS in Manila on 28-29 May 2014.
New Colombo Plan

The Secretaries and Ministers looked forward to the Philippines participating in the New Colombo Plan from 2015, and hoped that the Plan would see Australian students studying in the Philippines in the near future.

Next meeting

The Secretaries and Ministers agreed that the Fifth Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting would be hosted by Australia in 2016.


20 February 2014