Jacinda Ardern forges stronger NZ-PH ties on first Manila visit
MANILA, Philippines – There was not much buzz about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her first Philippine visit, but she ended the trip with agreements signed with her host government and the country's national carrier that are seen to boost ties between the two countries.
Ardern arrived in the country on Sunday, November 12, to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings. It was the second leg of her first-ever Asia visit as Prime Minister, after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit in Vietnam.
"I see it as a real positive that my first personal visit outside New Zealand is to Southeast Asia," Ardern said in an event at the New World Hotel in Makati on Tuesday, November 14.
"New Zealand has recognized the importance of this region for more than 40 years, but we have never been closer than we are today,” she added.
During her stay in Manila, the newly elected 37-year-old leader witnessed the signing of a bilateral agreement between New Zealand and Philippines, which capped her one-on-one meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte: the Memorandum of Cooperation on Comparative Analysis of New Zealand and the Philippines Bachelor's Degree.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ardern witnessed the signing of 3 agreements in Makati City – two bilateral agreements and an agreement between the New Zealand government and national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).
These are memoranda of understanding on:
- a 3-year joint marketing collaboration with the Philippine Airlines
- a platform to share experiences and knowledge on geothermal industries with the Department of Energy
- sharing of technology, weather intelligence reporting techniques and data with the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration
During the Makati event, the Prime Minister announced her plan to appoint two Filipinos as honorary consuls based in Cebu and Davao, as part of a plan to increase New Zealand’s commercial interests outside Manila.
Ardern was the last leader to have a bilateral meeting with Duterte on the final day of the summit late Tuesday night, November 14.
She spoke to him about New Zealand’s “principles and values of peace." Ardern had made a comment about Duterte’s drug war earlier that day, saying that the volume of deaths under it merits an oversight.
She also had a bilateral meeting with a fellow young leader – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – where she invited him to visit her country. – Rappler.com