U.S. offers joint maritime deals

Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Maria Theresa Lazaro (left) and US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink (Screengrab from DFA video)

The United States has offered to hold consultations with the Philippines “with a view to identifying joint maritime activities that the two countries can undertake.”

The proposal, made during the 10th Philippines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue held on 19 and 20 January, was significant in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking signed in 2005.

The Philippine panel, in response, welcomed the offer of the US to hold regular consultations.

The high tribunal said the JMSU was unconstitutional for allowing wholly-owned foreign corporations in the exploration of Philippine natural resources in violation of the Constitutional provision requiring majority Filipino ownership of firms doing such exploration.

Without going into specifics, a joint statement of the US and Philippine panels in the periodic negotiations said the strategic allies were committed to developing cooperation in the aspects of the economy, politics, and security while identifying new collaborative initiatives “to bring peace and prosperity to our peoples.”

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Maria Theresa Lazaro said the meeting led to an “agreement on several important initiatives that demonstrate the unwavering commitment of both sides to our alliance and partnership.”

Compliant with domestic laws
The statement said that promoting an international law-based maritime order in the West Philippine Sea should follow the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas and the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal decision.

Towards the goal of mutual maritime cooperation, the statement said the Philippines and the United States plan to convene this year the 2nd Maritime Dialogue, which will build on the outcomes of the inaugural dialogue in April last year.

The United States, which will host the 2nd Maritime Dialogue, guaranteed a more inclusive platform for sharing and socializing ideas and recommendations among academic and other stakeholders.

Both countries also committed to prioritizing efforts to lay the groundwork for civil nuclear energy cooperation; broadening dialogue and cooperation on clean energy transition; and deepening cooperation through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

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