Maritime cooperation between India and Philippines

Recently, the External Affairs Minister of India attended 5th meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation with Philippines where his counterpart Enrique Manalo mentioned that there is a lot of scope for expansion of defence cooperation between both the countries especially in maritime security, including the potential for joint sales as well as joint patrols. Highlights of the meet:
  • Both the nations looked at expanding cooperation in existing domains like the economy, defence, education, people-to-people relations, anti-terrorism measures, and maritime cooperation.
  • Focus on Defence cooperation:
    • The key dialogue was cooperation through training courses, greater military exchanges and in future joint exercises, the source said, stressing that it was a process which would continue and not be limited to single sales of equipment.
  • Shared view on Indo-Pacific:
    • Both the nations believe that Indo-Pacific should be a region which is free and open and a region whose members promote peace and stability.
  • On Maritime Cooperation:
    • On maritime cooperation, the joint statement came by both the nations to emphasize the utility of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
    • It is defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment.
    • The maritime domain is defined as “all areas and things of, on, under, relating to, adjacent to, or bordering on a sea, ocean, or other navigable waterway, including all maritime-related activities, infrastructure, people, cargo, and vessels and other conveyances.”
  • On Economic cooperation:
    • Both the countries agreed to renegotiate their bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement.
  • On Peace and regional stability:
    • They also underlined the need for peaceful settlement of disputes and for adherence to international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea.
India is the fifteenth largest trading partner for the Philippines, with trade worth around $3 billion last year.
  • On Technology Transfer:
    • The Philippines concluded a 375 million dollars deal with India for the purchase of three batteries of the shore-based anti-ship variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
    • They discussed for expansion of new areas including cyber security, artificial intelligence, and space cooperation.
    • India also agreed for exchange of intelligence and Technology related to cyber security and cyber threats to Philippines.
India-Philippines relations:
  • India and the Philippines have Sixty years of diplomatic relations, celebrated in 2009.
  • When India launched, the Look East Policy and intensified partnership with ASEAN in the early 90s, this also resulted in intensified relations with countries in the region including Philippines, both bilaterally and as a regional grouping.
  • The relationship with Philippines has intensified since then in political-security; economic and people-to-people interactions.
  • Coupled with current developments in the Philippines, the stage appears to be set for a further intensification in bilateral relations, covering the broad canvas of consultations and cooperation on matters related to foreign policy, security, defence, trade, tourism, people-to-people relations and culture.
  • Furthermore, strengthened ASEAN-India relations have had a positive impact on bilateral relations, especially with accelerated impetus given to trade and investment.
Significance of Philippines for India:
  • For Maritime support: Maritime exercises by both nations strengthen bilateral collaboration in the maritime domain towards a collective aim of ensuring a stable, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
Indian naval ships INS Ranvijay and INS Kora are currently deployed to the Western Pacific with an aim to strengthen maritime security collaboration with partner nations.
  • A partner against China:
    • China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea (arm of the Western Pacific Ocean) a huge source of hydrocarbons.
    • However, several ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, have counterclaims.
    • India is with ASEAN in this stance and China’s claim on supremacy.

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