The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, and the Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator the Hon Don Farrell, the Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Enrique A. Manalo, and the Secretary of Trade and Industry, the Hon Alfredo E. Pascual, held the sixth Philippines–Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) in Adelaide on 10 October 2023.
Highlighting the successful visit by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Manila on 8 September 2023—where he and President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. elevated the bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership—the Ministers and Secretaries welcomed this new dynamic chapter in our bilateral relationship and acknowledged the strategic significance of the PAMM as a means to strengthen cooperation.
The Ministers and Secretaries reinforced our countries’ commitment to striving for a region that is open, stable and prosperous. They reaffirmed our shared interests in preserving peace in the Indo–Pacific and recognised the stability of the region is anchored in respect for sovereignty and agreed rules and norms, and commitment to upholding international law.
Australia and the Philippines committed to work in partnership to preserve and strengthen an open, inclusive, and rules-based international order, governed by international law. Ministers and Secretaries reaffirmed the need for all countries to promote open channels of communication and practical measures to reduce risks of misunderstanding and miscalculation and prevent conflict in our region. Both countries recognised the importance of an inclusive ASEAN-led architecture for regional peace, stability and prosperity. They welcomed the Quad’s steadfast support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo–Pacific, and its positive and practical agenda to support the priorities and needs of regional countries.
The two countries agreed to reinforce our extensive and long-standing defence and security cooperation, supported by the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program, and looked forward to the positive contribution the AUKUS trilateral security partnership will make to regional balance and the collective security of the region.
Acknowledging our identity as maritime nations, both countries reaffirmed the importance of maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the oceans and seas in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They reiterated their strong opposition to any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force or coercion, such as unsafe encounters at sea and in the air, and the dangerous use of military and coast guard vessels and maritime militia. Both countries reiterated that the South China Sea Arbitration Award of 12 July 2016 is final and binding on both parties. Ministers and Secretaries committed to strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation between maritime policy-making, administrative, security and law enforcement agencies through dialogue and coordination, practical engagement and capacity-building activities. Ministers and Secretaries tasked officials to develop additional arrangements to strengthen cooperation on maritime issues.
The Ministers and Secretaries expressed serious concern about the deteriorating security, economic and humanitarian situation in Myanmar and called for an end to violence by the Myanmar military regime. They reaffirmed their support for ASEAN-led efforts to resolve the crisis, including the work of the ASEAN Chair and the Office of the Special Envoy, and called on the Myanmar regime to immediately and fully implement its commitments under the ASEAN Five Point Consensus. Ministers and Secretaries reiterated their call for the regime to allow safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance, and to engage in constructive dialogue to support a return to an inclusive democracy.
With respect to economic relations, the Ministers and Secretaries committed to deepen our trade, investment, and economic ties, including through promoting inclusive growth and sustainable economic development and supporting business to seize two-way trade and investment opportunities. They committed to deepen bilateral trade and investment by eliminating unnecessary barriers and creating the best possible conditions for business to flourish and take advantage of meaningful market access opportunities.
The Ministers and Secretaries acknowledged the importance of building upon our strong people-to-people links and committed to take actions to deepen cooperation in areas identified in Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040—particularly in agriculture, education and skills, resources, the visitor economy, and the clean energy transition. They recognised the significance of engaging the private sector to realise the goals of the Economic Strategy and enhance the bilateral trade and investment relations of both countries.
The Secretaries acknowledged Australia’s substantial contributions as a development partner of the Philippines in the areas of peacebuilding, education, and disaster and climate resilience, among others. Both countries looked forward to the successful implementation of the proposed Philippines–Australia Development Partnership Plan (DPP) 2024–2029, which will serve as a framework for bilateral development cooperation.
Both countries also agreed to work together to strengthen and reform the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, including reform of the WTO dispute settlement system. They committed to cooperate to make the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in February 2024 a success, with a focus on WTO reform. Both countries also agreed to continue to strengthen regional trade and investment through early implementation of the upgraded Agreement Establishing ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), the ongoing implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, and working together to secure ambitious outcomes in the Indo–Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
The Ministers and Secretaries highlighted the importance of the upcoming Special Summit to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN–Australia Dialogue Relations in 2024, to be convened in Melbourne, and welcomed the participation of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
In recognition of the strength and dynamism of the bilateral relationship, the Ministers and Secretaries endorsed the Philippines–Australia Plan of Action 2023–2026 and agreed to take forward the commitments outlined in the Joint Declaration on a Strategic Partnership.