Duterte, Widodo discuss delimitation of EEZ boundary
The two leaders discussed the developments on the delineation of the EEZ boundary during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 34th ASEAN Summit here on Saturday.

Duterte, Widodo discuss delimitation of EEZ boundary

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2019 - 12:00am

BANGKOK – Highlighting the importance of peaceful resolution of maritime disputes, President Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo have expressed confidence that the two countries can work better in handling the delineation of boundaries on their overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

The two leaders discussed the developments on the delineation of the EEZ boundary during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 34th ASEAN Summit here on Saturday.

In a joint statement, Duterte and Widodo welcomed the completion of the two countries’ respective domestic requirements for the entry into force of the agreement on the delimitation of EEZ boundary.  

“This landmark accord concluded between the two biggest archipelagic states stands as a valuable example of the peaceful and rules-based settlement of maritime borders in accordance with 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the joint statement read.

The agreement sets boundaries on the overlapping EEZs between the two countries, particularly Celebes Sea and Mindanao Sea in the southern Philippines, and the Philippine Sea on the southern section of the Pacific Ocean.

According to Malacañang, the agreement provides legal certainty on the EEZ boundary between the two countries, promotes deeper cooperation in their respective maritime sectors and thus contributes to the prosperity and economic development of both countries and the larger region.

Both leaders expect the agreement will take effect within this year, upon the formal exchange of the instruments of ratification by their respective foreign ministers, the joint statement said.

“This significant and positive development attests to the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Indonesia, and adds further meaning to the ongoing celebration of the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations,” the joint statement read.

Reports said the talks on the EEZ between the two countries started about 25 years ago in Mandao, Indonesia.

The two governments had initiated talks from 1994 to 2014 through the Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns (JPWG-MOC) assisted by several sub-working groups and a joint technical team.

The initial agreement was signed during the time of former president Benigno Aquino III. It was on June 3 this year that the Senate of the Philippines adopted a resolution on the Philippine-Indonesia boundary treaty. 

For his part, chief presidential legal adviser and presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the landmark agreement should be used as an example in dealing with maritime issues on overlapping EEZs.

“The Palace views this legal instrument as a good precedent on how to address maritime concerns and settle disputes in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, bearing in mind the archipelagic nature of the Philippines which inherently shares common borders with many ASEAN member states,” Panelo said.

In the vast South China Sea, the Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Indonesia,  Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping island and maritime claims in the area.

Panelo remained optimistic that the Philippine-Indonesia agreement will be a “benchmark” for future agreements on maritime and island disputes.

“In line with the independent foreign policy course that President Duterte charted for our country – where we are friends to all and enemies to none – we hope that this accord would serve as a benchmark for future agreements with other countries with shared or similar concerns as we continue to deepen cooperation with our strategic allies in the region,” Panelo said.


 In another statement, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez reported trade officials from both sides were asked to resolve the current issue on the safeguard measure imposed by Philippines against instant coffee imports from Indonesia. 

Lopez stressed the need to resolve the matter to address the lower import price, which is below the set trigger price of P203.74 per kilo set by the Philippines.   

“The lower import price has led to higher imports affecting local manufacturers in the Philippines,” he said, adding that the issue has also prompted a review of the current restrictive market access of Philippine products to Indonesia.  

Lopez noted the current trade imbalance is in favor of Indonesia, prompting trade officials from both countries to find ways to narrow the trade gap while growing two-way trade.  

“It was agreed that greater efforts must be done to allow more Philippine products to access the Indonesian market,” Lopez said.

“We reported that we had trade bilateral meeting yesterday to address this issue and agreed to have more Indonesian market access for agri-based products such as bananas, shallots, coconut products, food and beverages and industrial products such as auto parts, among others to grow more the Philippine exports,” he added.

According to Lopez, there is also the commitment to put up a Kopiko coffee processing plant in the Philippines.  

Meanwhile, Duterte joined other ASEAN leaders in an interface with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) last Saturday. 

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