Today is: Wed, May 22, 2013
UK and US strengthen regional ties
THE United Kingdom has reiterated its heightened focus on Asia, and encouraged the rest of Europe to be more engaged in the region through championing free trade agreements, sharing expertise in specialist areas and being active on foreign policy issues in Asia.
“We believe that it is time for the EU to be more vigorously and coherently engaged with countries of the Asia-Pacific within the limits of its competences; working to break down market barriers within Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world, championing free trade agreements, and working closely together in specialist areas such as disaster preparedness. This also involves being active on foreign policy issues in Asia, for example offering EU expertise to support regional integration in South East Asia, and taking a robust position on North Korean nuclear and missile proliferation,” said British Foreign Secretary Hague during a visit to Singapore to deliver a keynote address.
“We want Britain to be a leading partner with Asian countries in developing that prosperous future, in trade and commerce, in culture, education and development, and in foreign policy and security. Our government will invest the time and effort to develop the political relationships and deep understanding to support this vision over the long term. Those countries in the region that choose to look to Britain will find a willing, active and serious partner for the 21st century,” he said.
Commenting on the speech, Trevor Lewis, Chargé d’ Affaires at the British Embassy in Manila, noted that “this is a clear statement of the UK’s renewed engagement in the Asia-Pacific region and of the importance of working closely with key regional partners including the Philippines.”
Hague also bared plans to expand its diplomatic network in Asia. “We hope to open up to eight new British diplomatic posts in Asia by 2015, ” Hague said. “We will also then be represented in each and every Asean member state. We are deliberately doing this ahead of the culmination of plans to transform Asean into a single market and production base that is highly competitive and fully integrated into the global community by 2015, to the great benefit of the 600 million people who live in Asean countries.”
Hague added that by 2015 the UK will have deployed 60 extra staff to China, 30 to India and another 50 across the Asian network, including the Philippines. These extra posts and diplomats are the physical proof of our desire for broad and deep partnerships with Asian countries for the 21st century.
Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City Government of Batangas to unleash the city’s full economic potential through USAID’s Cities Development Initiative (CDI).
USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg and USAID/Philippines Mission Director Gloria Steele signed the MOU with Mayor Vilma Dimacuha. The event was also witnessed by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Merly Cruz and other Batangas City officials and representatives from the private sector, academia, and civil society organizations.
“This partnership aims to address key constraints to economic growth and investment in Batangas City. The CDI will unlock and maximize the city’s growth potential through significant collaboration in areas such as education, energy, environment, health systems, and economic growth and investment,” Deputy Administrator Steinberg said.
Steinberg is in the Philippines to attend the Asian Development Bank’s 45th Annual of Meeting of the Board of Governors. He was among the panelists in the Development Partners Session- Cooperation in a Changing World last week where shared his insights on recent changes in the global aid architecture and its implications for development cooperation in Asia.
Mission Director Steele said, “CDI takes a unique and cross-cutting approach to promoting inclusive growth. Together with Iloilo City and Cagayan de Oro City, USAID has selected Batangas City to become a ‘center of growth’ because of its demonstrated economic potential.”
Identified as one of the urban growth centers in the Philippines, Batangas City has an international port and recently-completed access roads that provide a faster and more efficient route for exploring and penetrating markets in nearby provinces and regions.
“The initiative is built on the premise that economic growth and job creation are closely linked to urban development, where cities act as engines of economic growth,” Director Steele said. “The CDI seeks to promote economic growth outside of Metro Manila to disperse economic opportunity in the Philippines as it moves from a low growth path to a higher, sustained, and more inclusive growth trajectory in line with other high-performing emerging economies.”
The Cities Development Initiative is an integral part of the U.S.-Philippines Partnership for Growth (PFG). Launched in November 2011 by Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, PFG is helping the Philippines achieve its high growth potential by creating a more transparent, predictable, and consistent legal and regulatory regime; fostering a more open and competitive business environment; strengthening the rule of law; and supporting fiscal stability.