MANILA, Nov 11 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines considers Vietnam as an “important partner” in ensuring food security, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Thursday.

PH-VIETNAM TIES. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on the sidelines of the 40th and 41st Asean Summit and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Thursday (Nov. 10, 2022). During their meeting, Marcos described Vietnam as an “important partner” in ensuring food security. (MNS photo)

He made the remark during a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on the sidelines of the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

During their meeting, Marcos cited that Vietnam accounts for 90 percent of the Philippines’ rice imports.

He told Chinh that he looks forward to working closely with Vietnam and having greater engagement toward enhancing relations in agriculture and other areas, such as trade, investment, defense, and maritime security.

“As we have observed, the Philippines and Vietnam since the beginning of our diplomatic relationship have had a burgeoning, a growing relationship, both in the political and security side and of course, in terms of trade and in people-to-people exchanges,” Marcos said.

The President welcomed the increased total trade between the Philippines and Vietnam but noted a significant trade imbalance between the two countries.

He expressed hope that Vietnam would help the Philippines address this problem.

“In the past few years, we have seen the great success, the great economic success that Vietnam has enjoyed and with that, even Filipino investors have started to go to Vietnam to be part of this development in your country, and since then our trade has increased,” he added.

The Philippines earlier reestablished the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Ho Chi Minh, which is expected to enhance economic relations between Vietnam and the Philippines.

Marcos also said the continued dialogues would be beneficial, including intelligence and strategies exchanges in dealing with maritime concerns.

Chinh, meanwhile, expressed eagerness to work with the Philippines in addressing maritime issues, particularly illegal fishing, and balancing trade.

He underscored the need for new approaches in addressing the present challenges and called for adherence to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

The Vietnamese leader also lauded Marcos for the Philippine government’s effective coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response and for achieving one of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates in Asia.

The Philippines has de-escalated quarantine protocols and posted a GDP growth of 7.6 percent despite a high inflation environment, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

‘Common ground’

Meanwhile, Marcos raised the need for Asean to “find common ground” in dealing with pressing concerns, which include rising United States-China tensions over Taiwan, as well as the crisis in Myanmar.

“All of these issues are of extreme importance and of extreme urgency. And that is why I believe Asean must find common ground from which to face those challenges,” he said.

China claims Taiwan as a breakaway province, while Taipei has insisted on its independence since 1949.

Relations between Taiwan and China appear to have deteriorated sharply after the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August.

Myanmar’s military seized power in February 2021, ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The takeover resulted in widespread public protests that were suppressed with deadly force.

In response, armed opposition to military rule has arisen. (MNS)