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The road ahead is clear for enhanced PH-US relations


In the past few weeks, the administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been busy not only forming the members of the incoming Cabinet, but also meeting with members of the diplomatic corps. Aside from entertaining calls from leaders of different countries, led by superpowers the United States and China, their representatives have also personally reached out to Marcos, conveying their desire to continue—or even enhance—good relations in the aspect of labor and trade, pandemic recovery, climate change, and culture exchange.

Among the countries that have reached out is the US, a traditional ally of the Philippines. Deputy State Secretary Wendy Sherman met with the President-elect last 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 highest-ranking foreign government official to personally meet with Marcos since the national elections.

“We discussed strengthening our longstanding alliance, expanding people-to-people ties, deepening our economic relationship, advancing human rights, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Sherman in an official Tweet. The State Department also reiterated the purpose and scope of the meet, highlighting the fact that the “two nations agreed to strengthen the importance of public-private partnerships, clean energy, and the digital economy.”

On the part of clean energy, Sherman relayed that the US is ready to support the country in its shift to renewable energy as it is “something that is critical for the entire world.” “For the security of our planet, it is a topic of conversation in every government discussion I have. As countries are trying to transition to renewables such as wind, solar, to effective small modular nuclear reactors, the US is happy to work with them to bring any technical assistance. (We have) experts to help think through how to make that transition.”

Sherman also used her visit to the country to underscore 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 underpinning the international maritime order,” she said.

In less than a month, the Philippines and the US will mark the 76th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. This makes our country the US’ longest-standing treaty ally in Asia. Aside from a shared historical and political background, the two countries are also major trading partners. Pre-pandemic times, bilateral trade reached more than US$27 billion in 2019, making the US the third largest trading partner of the Philippines. With the positive reception and reviews of the talks, the incoming administration has expressed its optimism of working with the US on a much deeper and meaningful scale.

It could be recalled that among the first visitors of Marcos was US Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava. Marcos was able to convey at that time that “security concerns have been a big part of the relationship with the US.” “We discussed security issues, the return or re-signing, or the extension of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and how it could be redefined to account for the rapidly changing geopolitical climate, especially with what’s happening to the world,” Marcos said.

After the oath-taking in front of the National Museum at noon of June 30, the new president has to start laying out to the world his core foreign policy direction. There will be many issues, different points of view, and inevitable disagreements along the way. Whatever that way may be, may the path that our country treads on lead to peace, progress, and prosperity for all concerned.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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