Sunday, April 21, 2024

Philippines Sees Potential In Trilateral Cooperation With India, Japan

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Philippines Sees Potential In Trilateral Cooperation With India, Japan

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The Philippine government sees “numerous opportunities” in a possible trilateral partnership with Japan and India, one that is focused on both maritime security and economic development.

In a Stratbase ADRI forum in Makati on Friday, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro expressed optimism this possible arrangement would thrive as the countries share a similar geographic make-up and location in the Indo-Pacific.

“In concrete terms, the confluence of the two seas can be construed as a natural connection that paves the way for the intersection of interests and goal congruence among the varied actors in the Indo-Pacific,” she said referring to the Indian and the Pacific Oceans.

“The prospect for triangular cooperation between the Philippines, India and Japan falls neatly into this narrative. This partnership can help drive the economic engines of these countries towards shared economic prosperity in the region,” she added.

Apart from maritime security, the diplomat said this would also strengthen cooperation on green transformation and infrastructure connectivity, which would result in increased intra-regional trade and travel mobility.

Manila only has two active trilateral partnership —one with the United States and Japan, and the anti-piracy and counterterrorism-focused tie-up with Malaysia and Indonesia.

In a separate interview, Lazaro said forging a similar kind with India and Japan would still have to go through a series of discussions and process before it can be formalized.

Meanwhile, she said Manila wants to initiate a bilateral maritime dialogue with India at a Track 1 or government-to-government level “in due course”.

As Manila and Tokyo already have an existing mechanism for maritime talks, the official believes a Track 1 with India would make it easier to forge a Philippine-India-Japan trilateral cooperation in the future.

The Stratbase forum explores the prospects of a triangular partnership between the three states, especially on ways it can ensure maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.

Japan Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Kenichi Matsuda, for his part, believes the proposal would further support Japan’s vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).

“Guided by the spirit of co-creation, a triangular partnership between the Philippines, India and Japan can bring about a nexus of sustainable and collaborative efforts that may shape the future of the Indo-Pacific region in the coming years,” he said.

Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran, meanwhile, said stakeholders must assess what this kind of cooperation can really bring into the table and start first on “workable ideas”.

“Our three Indo-Pacific democracies, the logic of our engagement is clear, but the test for us, as we walk the talk would be to develop small, workable projects that each of us can build and create the public opinion and political support to build this into a larger idea,” he said. (PNA)