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Overview of Relations
The Philippines established diplomatic relations with Pakistan on 08 September 1949 through the opening of a Philippine Consulate in Pakistan. This was followed by the opening of the Philippine Embassy in Karachi in 1956.
Exchange of Visits
The early decades of bilateral relations were characterized by several high level visits on both sides.
In May 1957, Pakistan Prime Minister Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy made an official visit to the Philippines. This was reciprocated by President Diosdado Macapagal in July 1962.
During the administration of former President Corazon Aquino, Pakistani Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo made an official visit to the Philippines. During this visit, discussions towards pursuing more vigorous trade relations were made.
In 1989, President Aquino, on two occasions, held bilateral talks with the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Issues of mutual interest, particularly on the improvement of trade and technical cooperation, were discussed. President Aquino then extended an invitation to the prime minister to visit the Philippines.
Prime Minister Bhutto visited the Philippines in 1995 as a guest of former President Fidel Ramos. In 1997, the gesture was returned by President Fidel V. Ramos, only the second Philippine head of state to visit Pakistan almost forty years after the first state visit of President Macapagal.
Visit of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto G. Romulo, 9-10 April 2009
On 9-10 April 2009, Secretary Alberto G. Romulo had his first official visit to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in support of the Philipines’ bid for Observer Status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). During the visit, Secretary Romulo paid courtesy calls on President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Secretary Romulo handed over President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s letter to President Zardari, recalling his previous commitment to support the bid. FM Qureshi assured that Pakistan will support the Philippines’ OIC bid.
Other issues had been agreed upon during the meetings include: intensifying people-to-people cooperation mainly through exchanges of visits by high-level officials including parliamentarians, cultural activities and scholarships; convening of the JEC to explore ways to increase bilateral trade and investment; building on past cooperation and support interfaith dialogue initiatives; deepening security and military cooperation to enhance each other’s capacity to combat terrorism and extremism; sharing experiences on national unity and reconciliation efforts and the support of the Philippines for Pakistan’s bid to become an ASEAN Full Dialogue Partner.
State Visit of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to the Philippines, 18-20 April 2005
On 18 to 20 April 2005, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf made a State Visit to the Philippines. During the visit, the following agreements were signed: Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation to Combat Terrorism and Certain Other Crimes; Visa Waiver Agreement for Diplomatic Passport Holders; Cultural Exchange Programme for 2005-2009; and a Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippine Trading International Corporation (PITC) and the United Marketing on the Importation of Medicines from Pakistan.
President Musharraf and President Arroyo agreed to cooperate against terrorism and to promote interfaith dialogue.
Visit of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Delia Domingo Albert, June 2004
In June 2004, then Secretary Delia Domingo Albert visited Pakistan and called on Foreign Minister Khurshid M. Kasuri, President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali primarily to campaign for the Philippines’ bid for Observer Status in the OIC and revitalize bilateral cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the field of counter-terrorism.
Meetings between H.E. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Pakistani Top Leaders
On the sidelines of the UN Interfaith Conference, New York, November 2008
President Arroyo conducted talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and discussed the multiple facets of Philippines-Pakistan relations. Significantly, President Arroyo expressed keen interest in procuring pharmaceutical products from Pakistan and promised to send a delegation from the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) to Islamabad to share its experiences in promoting peace and development in Southern-Philippines through reconciliation process.
40th Anniversary of Al-Fateh Revolution, Tripoli Libya, September 2009
President Arroyo met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Tripoli, Libya. The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including trade and economic cooperation, inter-faith harmony, and initiatives on the diplomatic front. President Arroyo reiterated the Philippines’ interest in promoting medicines from Pakistan and expressed her appreciation for Pakistan’s support for the Philippines’ bid for observer status at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
On 8 March 1997, an agreement was signed by both countries to create a forum for policy consultations at the level of senior officials.
The Policy Consultation Meeting serves as a forum for the DFA and the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss bilateral, regional and multilateral issues, present the political and economic policies of both governments, coordinate joint efforts, explore new areas for cooperation, and facilitate the conclusion of bilateral agreements.
The First Policy Consultation Meeting was held in Islamabad on 26-27 June 2001. The second round of consultations was held in Manila on 1 April 2004. The consultations focused on counter-terrorism cooperation, the Philippines’ bid to become an Observer State in the OIC, and Pakistan’s application for ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) membership.
The Third Round of Policy Consultations is scheduled to be held in 2010 in Pakistan.
The Philippines and Pakistan signed two (2) economic agreements, namely the Philippines-Pakistan Trade Agreement and the Philippines-Pakistan Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investment, on 29 September 1961 and 23 April 1999 in Manila, respectively.
RP-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC)
During the 2nd RP-Pakistan Policy Consultations held last 01 April 2004, both sides agreed to rejuvenate the trade and investment relations between the Philippines and Pakistan. The Pakistan side proposed to have an RP-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission or JEC at the Ministerial-level to serve as a mechanism in boosting economic and trade relations between the two countries.
In 2008, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Pakistan Ministry of Economic Affairs and Statistics agreed on the final draft of the Agreement to be implemented at the Senior Officials Level.
The Pakistan Government proposed that the JEC be signed in Islamabad between the Acting Secretary, Economic Affairs Division of the Ministry of Economics Affairs and Statistics and the Philippine Ambassador to Pakistan. The JEC was signed on 29 July 2008 in Islamabad.
H.E. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ratified the MOA on JEC on 6 May 2009. The Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs (ASPAC) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) forwarded a copy of the Instrument of Ratification to Pakistan Embassy in Manila on 11 May 2009.
The Embassy of Pakistan in Manila through Note No. Amb-2(8)/2009 dated 17 August 2009, conveyed to the Department of the ratification of the MOA by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. A copy of the Instrument of Ratification signed on 1 August 2009 by President Asif Ali Zardari was forwarded to the DFA.
The JEC entered into force on 17 August 2009 after both parties ratified the said Agreement.
PHILIPPINES-PAKISTAN TRADE RELATIONS
Over the first five years, total bilateral trade has tremendously increased from US$34 million in 2004 to US$151 million in 2008. The year 2008 registered the highest trade balance between the Philippines and Pakistan, amounting to US$ 62,407,160 in favor of the Pakistan. In 2009, total trade between the two countries decreased enormously. RP exported US$39 million worth of goods to Pakistan, with US$47 million worth of imports from Pakistan, which lowers RP-Pakistan balance of trade amounting to US$7.8 million.
Top exports to Pakistan include garments, paper products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, dairy products, processed fruits, coconut products, tobacco, electronic components and machineries, iron, steel, cement and chemicals. Top imports from Pakistan include housewares processed foods, dairy products, marine products, fresh foods, tobacco, textile yarns and twines, and industrial products. The substantial rise in imports in 2008 was mainly due to the purchase of inexpensive pharmaceuticals. There is potential for the export of coconut and coconut products halal food and edible oils.
RP Trade with Pakistan
FOB Value in US Dollars
The Department of Trade and Industry conducted an evaluation on market attractiveness as basis for prioritizing scarce resources in trade promotion. Pakistan failed to make it to be among the priority markets.
Philippine Products for Promotion to Pakistan
Philippine products for promotion to Pakistan include Halal food products, edible oils, petroleum products, chemicals, and motor vehicle parts.
Philippine-Pakistan Business Council (PPBC)
Moves have been undertaken by the DTI, specifically the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion, to address some of the issues when it initiated and played a pivotal role in fact-tracking the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement that was signed by both countries in November 5, 1999. Likewise, the Bureau initiated the establishment of the Joint Business Council of which an agreement has already been signed by federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Philippine-Pakistan Business Council (PPBC) was established towards the latter part of 2003. It was finally launched in September 2004.
The PPBC is a non-stock, non-profit association duly organized and existing under the aegis of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). PPBC envisions itself as one of the prime movers of growth on the Philippines and Pakistan trade relations. The Council intends to establish a strong channel of communications and strengthened network linkages with prospective business counterparts in Pakistan through the organization of events such as trade promotion conferences and seminars, exchange of business missions, participation in trade among others. Moreover, the Council aims to foster friendship and camaraderie among the business of the two countries.
Philippines-Pakistan Investment Relations
TRG Pakistan Ltd., Pakistan’s largest IT-enable company, recently launched TRG Philippines’ Manila operations. Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo graced the formal opening. The much-anticipated opening of the TRG’s Philippine operations represents significant business and employment opportunities in the country.
During the occasion, TRG’s Chief executive Officer Zia Chisti said that the Philippines represented a formidable site for TRG’s Business Process Outsourcing operations “given the excellent human capital and infrastructure in the country, and provides our blue-chip customer base truly global service delivery options with superior service and significant cost benefits.”
RP-PAKISTAN 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF ESTABLISHMENT OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS (1949-2009)
In 2009, the Philippines and Pakistan celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. To mark the occasion, the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan organized several activities including a visit by Secretary Alberto G. Romulo to Islamabad in April and a diplomatic reception and cultural performance in October.
The Philippines and Pakistan also explored areas of cooperation in agriculture and in nuclear science and technology. Existing cooperation are in cultural exchanges, exchange of scholars, and Pakistani government delegation visits to the Philippines, among others.
Visit of Bishop-Ulama Conference (BUC) Delegation to Pakistan, January 2010
Following her meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari at the sidelines of the UN Interfaith Conference in New York in November 2008, the President instructed the Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process and the DFA to organize a visit to Pakistan by a delegation of the Bishop-Ulama Conference (BUC).
The BUC is an inter-faith group composed of bishops and Muslim religious leaders in Mindanao. President Arroyo requested the BUC to spearhead a civil society initiative to come up with a framework for lasting peace in Mindanao. Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao City and other leaders of the BUC have accepted the President’s request for the Conference to oversee a “deep consultative process” on ending the decades-old Mindanao conflict.
In January 2010, Pakistan hosted the delegation from the BUC led by Secretary General Isabel Tobias of the Philippine Council on Interfaith Initiatives and BUC Lead Convenor Archbishop Fernando Capalla. The visit, which was highlighted by high-level meetings with Pakistani government officials, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Senate Chairman Farook Naek, was the first time the BUC, as an organization, was able to send a delegation abroad and hold meetings with a foreign government. It was adequately covered in the Pakistani media. The two groups adopted a Joint Declaration.
Presentation of Pakistani Culture and Arts
The NCCA is also interested in hosting Urdu poets from Pakistan, to promote Pakistani arts and literature in the Philippines. The NCCA is also exploring with the Ministry of Culture of Pakistan the translation of the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo into Urdu.
Exchange of Islamic Scholars
The University of the Philippines Institute of Islamic Studies is open to undertaking a proposed exchange of Islamic scholars with reputable Pakistani institutions to be identified in coordination with the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad.
RP-Pakistan 60th Anniversary Commemorative Stamps
On 8 September 2009, the Government of Pakistan issued its 60th Anniversary RP-Pakistan Diplomatic Relations commemorative stamps. The Government of the Philippines has proposed to issue its commemorative stamp in 2010.
Among the first agreements concluded by both countries were: the Air Transport Services Agreement signed on 16 July 1949; Exchange of Notes Amending the Annex to the Air Services Agreement signed on 7 November 1969; Treaty of Friendship signed on 3 January 1951; Cultural Agreement signed on 15 August 1961; Trade Agreement signed on 29 September 196; the Agreement for the Mutual Recognition of Certificate of Registry of other National Documents denoting Tonnage of Merchant Ships signed on 26 June 1968; Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes and Income signed on 22 February 1980; the Agreement relating to the Waiver of Non-Migrant Visa requirements entered into force on 1 December 1972; a Memorandum of Understanding between Department of Interior and Local Government of the Philippines and the Ministry of Interior of Pakistan signed on 15 December 1995; the Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy signed on 08 March 1997; Agreement on the Arrangements for the Establishment of Policy Consultation Talks between the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan signed on 08 March 1997; and Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investment signed on 23 April 1999.
Other agreements concluded by both parties were signed on 19 April 2005 during the State Visit to Manila of President Musharraf on 18-20 April 2005, namely: Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on Combating Terrorism and Certain Other Crimes; Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on the Abolition of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic Passport Holders and the Facilitation of the Issuance of Entry Visas for Official Passports; Programme of Cultural Exchanges between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for 2005-2009; and Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) and United Marketing on the Importation of Medicines from Pakistan.
FILIPINO COMMUNITY IN PAKISTAN
As of July-December 2009 (Annual Report to Congress) there are an estimated 1,190 number of Filipinos in Pakistan which includes 151 permanent residents, 20 temporary residents and 949 irregular and undocumented residents.
These Filipinos are composed mostly of professionals, such as engineers who work in IT and telecoms companies, hotel staff, nurses, religious missionaries, those employed in textile mills and road construction projects, and workers from UN and other international organizations. There are also female domestic helpers and Filipino nationals married to Pakistanis.
The Embassy's count showed a decline of Filipino students in Pakistani madrassahs from 117 to 70. However, attracted by the scholarships offered by the madrassahs, young Filipinos are arriving to replace those who have graduated.