PH, Thailand to sign tourism, agri, tech deals during Duterte visit

Pia Ranada
PH, Thailand to sign tourism, agri, tech deals during Duterte visit
The two Southeast Asian countries will approve a 5-year tourism cooperation plan during President Rodrigo Duterte's official visit to Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand – President Rodrigo Duterte and Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will witness the signing of 3 bilateral agreements during the Philippine President’s visit to Bangkok.

Philippine Ambassador to Thailand Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon said the deals are in the areas of tourism, agriculture, and science and technology.

Speaking to media on Monday, March 20, the day Duterte is set to arrive in Bangkok, Aragon said the tourism agreement will bind the two countries to the joint implementation of a 5-year tourism cooperation plan, an update to a 1993 deal with Thailand.

Aragon said the cooperation deal entails sharing best practices and capacity-building for improved tourism in both countries.

“For instance, we can learn a lot from Thailand on how they have managed to increase the number of tourism arrivals here, infrastructure, so these are the things we will have [in] our tourism industry,” Aragon told reporters.

While the details of the deal’s implementation are still being worked out, the Ambassador said there could be “joint marketing promotions” for tourism in the two Southeast Asian countries.

The science and technology agreement, meanwhile, is expected to help micro, small, and medium enterprises in the Philippines, another priority of the Duterte administration.

“The use of tech and e-commerce will help both countries, especially small and medium enterprises,” Aragon said.

For the agreement on agriculture, particularly livestock and dairy, the Philippines is expected to benefit from Thailand’s experience in developing its agricultural sector.

“The other [agreement] is on the farm and the dairy buffalo production. We have an agreement signed in 2003. This is one aspect where an area of cooperation can be concluded between our Philippine carabao sector and [Thailand’s agriculture department],” said Aragon.

The livestock deal builds on previous agriculture agreements, such as a deal on fruit processing with the Thailand International Cooperation Agency.

Support from Filipinos in Thailand

During Duterte’s visit to Thailand from March 20 to 22, he is expected to meet with Thai business groups and Thai Chamber of Commerce representatives.

On Wednesday, March 22, he is also set to give a speech at a gathering of around 1,900 Filipinos residing in Thailand.

The President enjoys support from many of the Filipinos in this country. Of the 3,550 who cast their votes in May 2016, 73% voted for Duterte, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

There are more than 16,700 Filipinos in Thailand registered with the Philippine embassy as of December 2016. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at