Over the past few weeks, the administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been busy not only training members of the new cabinet, but also meeting with members of the diplomatic corps. Along with entertaining pleas from leaders of different countries, led by the superpowers of the United States and China, their representatives also personally reached out to Marcos, telling him of their desire to continue, and even improve, good labor and trade relations, pandemic recovery, climate change and cultural exchange.
Among the countries that have reached out is the United States, a traditional ally of the Philippines. Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with the President-elect on June 9, 2022 to convey Washington’s desire to forge a stronger economic partnership and alliance with Manila. Sherman, for the record, is the first senior foreign official to meet Marcos personally since the national elections.
“We discussed strengthening our longstanding alliance, expanding people-to-people ties, deepening our economic relations, promoting human rights and preserving an Indo- Free and open Pacific,” Sherman said in an official Tweet. The State Department also reiterated the purpose and scope of the meeting, noting that “both nations have agreed to reinforce the importance of public-private partnerships, clean energy, and the digital economy. “.
Regarding clean energy, Sherman said the United States stands ready to support the country in its transition to renewable energy because it is “something that is essential for the whole world.” “For the safety of our planet, this is a topic of conversation in every government discussion I have. As countries attempt to transition to renewable energy such as wind, solar, small efficient modular nuclear reactors , the United States is happy to work with them to provide any technical assistance (we have) experts to help us think through how to make this transition.
Sherman also used his visit to the country to stress Washington’s commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the Philippines. “The United States remains committed to standing with the government of the Philippines to uphold the rules and laws that underpin the international maritime order,” she said.
In less than a month, the Philippines and the United States will mark the 76th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. This makes our country the oldest treaty ally of the United States in Asia. In addition to a common historical and political background, the two countries are also major trading partners. Before the pandemic, bilateral trade reached more than US$27 billion in 2019, making the United States the Philippines’ third-largest trading partner. With the positive reception and criticism of the talks, the new administration expressed optimism to work with the United States on a much deeper and more meaningful scale.
It may be recalled that among the first visitors to Marcos was the American charge d’affaires Heather Variava. Marcos was able to convey at that time that “security issues played an important role in relations with the United States”. “We discussed security concerns, the return or re-signing, or the extension of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and how it could be redefined to take into account the the rapidly changing geopolitical climate, especially with what’s happening in the world,” Marcos said. .
After taking the oath in front of the National Museum at noon on June 30, the new president must begin to explain to the world the main direction of his foreign policy. There will be many problems, different points of view and inevitable disagreements along the way. Whatever this path, may the path taken by our country lead to peace, progress and prosperity for all.
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