MANILA, Feb 7 (Mabuhay) — President Benigno S. Aquino III received Thursday German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his delegation in a courtesy call at Malacanang’s Music Room. Prior to Westerwelle’s courtesy call on President Aquino, he met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario during a bilateral meeting.
Among the issues discussed by Del Rosario and Westerwelle were the political consultation process between the Philippines and Germany, the Framework Agreement for Mindanao peace, economic relations and the Fraport issue, defense cooperation, West Philippine Sea issue, Filipino seafarers welfare, official development assistance (ODA), and the ongoing activities of German foundations in the Philippines.
Westerwelle arrived in the Philippines as both countries prepare for the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations next year.
Despite the contentious Fraport issue which remains a challenge for both countries, Del Rosario said “this single case should not prevent German companies from working with their Filipino partners to exploit opportunities in the energy, manufacturing, business process outsourcing, tourism and other infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership and other schemes.”
The Philippines and Germany have built strong economic partnership in recent years. The Philippine-German economic relations remain robust, Del Rosario said.
Germany is the country’s largest trading partner in the European Union with bilateral trade amounting to $3.1 billion in 2011. Germany is also the biggest source of tourists for the Philippines in Europe with 61,193 arrivals for the same year.
German foreign direct investments in 2011 stood at $21.7 million. In addition, Germany is one of the leading sources of official development assistance to support the implementation of development projects in the Philippines, Del Rosario added.
Aside from maintaining vibrant trade relations, the two countries have been working to re-invigorate defense relations.
According to Del Rosario, Germany also expressed its support to the Philippine position towards a peaceful resolution of its territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.
Accompanying Westerwelle during the courtesy call were German Ambassador Joachin Heidorn, Director General for Asia, Latin America and the Near and Middle East Clemens von Goetze, and Private Secretary to the Foreign Minister Markus Kleft. (MNS)