Philippines and Vietnam signs agreements on rice supply and maritime security

Philippines and Vietnam strengthen ties through agreements on rice supply and maritime security, navigating South China Sea challenges.

The Philippines and Vietnam have signed agreements during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s two-day visit, enhancing cooperation on rice supply and maritime security in the South China Sea. The rice agreement allows private Vietnamese traders to supply up to 2 million metric tons of rice annually to Filipino counterparts at fair prices for five years. This collaboration aims to ensure a sustainable food supply amid external challenges like climate change.

Vietnam, one of the world’s major rice exporters, commits to supplying the Philippines’ private sector with white rice. Simultaneously, both nations signed a deal focusing on increased cooperation between their coast guards, aiming to prevent untoward incidents in the South China Sea. The maritime agreement establishes a comprehensive partnership for capacity building, training, personnel and ship exchanges between the coast guards of the Philippines and Vietnam. The objective is to enhance their ability to operate together in the South China Sea, where competing territorial claims have led to tensions.

President Marcos emphasized the significance of defending sovereignty and jurisdiction while expressing a commitment to addressing issues with China through peaceful dialogue. The South China Sea remains a point of contention due to competing claims from multiple nations, including Vietnam and the Philippines. In addition to these agreements, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on a five-year cultural cooperation program was signed between the Philippines’ National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. This program builds upon exchanges established in a similar accord signed in 1998.

The rice agreement seeks to intensify bilateral linkages in agriculture, rural development, and related fields. It also establishes 19 areas of cooperation in high-value crops, livestock and aquaculture, farm management and sustainability, smart agriculture and aquaculture technology, research training, and expert exchanges.

The comprehensive partnership in maritime security is intended to strengthen understanding and mutual trust between the two nations. The creation of a Joint Coast Guard Committee and a hotline mechanism aims to address common issues and interests between the Philippine and Vietnamese coast guards.

While these agreements are aimed at fostering cooperation, they could potentially strain relations with Beijing, especially in the context of the South China Sea disputes. Both Vietnam and the Philippines have experienced tensions with China’s coastguard, and these agreements signify a collective effort to navigate the complexities of the regional geopolitical landscape.