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Philippines, Taiwan to sign fisheries pact, advance trade relations
Central News Agency
2014-06-12 09:36 PM
Taipei, June 12 (CNA) The Philippines and Taiwan will soon sign an agreement to cooperate on law enforcement in fisheries matters in overlapping economic waters, and will work to advance bilateral trade relations, the Philippines' representative to Taiwan said Thursday. Although last year saw perhaps "the severest" test in bilateral ties, both sides have made efforts to overcome difficulties in relations, said Antonio Basilio at an event to celebrate the Philippines' national day in Taipei. He pointed out, as an example, that both countries are in the final stage of concluding an agreement on cooperating in law enforcement on fisheries. Since last year, Taiwan and the Philippines have been discussing an agreement on maritime law enforcement cooperation, after a Taiwanese fisherman was shot dead on May 9, 2013 by Philippine Coast Guard officers in an overlapping exclusive economic zone of the two countries. The shooting and the Philippines' initial handling of it caused relations to plunge to their worst level in years, with Taiwan imposing a freeze on hiring Filipino migrant workers among other sanctions.

During a series of fishery meetings following the shooting incident, both sides reached consensus on several issues regarding maritime law enforcement cooperation. These include no use of force or violence when patrolling fishing grounds, the establishment of a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fishery incidents, and the release of detained fishermen and boats as soon as possible. Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Ting Joseph Shih, who also attended the event, said once the agreement is signed, the safety of fishermen from both countries will be further protected. Meanwhile, Basilio noted bilateral efforts to further trade relations between the two countries. "Toward the last quarter of this year, we will convene our Joint Economic Committee to discuss ways to expand trade and investments," including the assessment of the results of respective research on the feasibility of an economic partnership agreement, he said. Taiwan is the Philippines' closest neighbor and has been an important partner for the Southeast Asian country, Basilio told hundreds of participants in the event, including many foreign officials based in Taiwan. Taiwan is also the sixth largest trade partner for the Philippines, according to Basilio. Echoing Basilio's remarks, Shih said he hopes that the two countries will sign an economic cooperation agreement and enhance cooperation in other areas. This year marks the 116th anniversary of the Philippine Independence Day. (By Elaine Hou)

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