Philippines - The 7th Round of the Philippines-Egypt Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) was held in Cairo last July 17 in an open and friendly atmosphere with both sides affirming their commitment to resume the annual dialogue since the last JCM hosted by the Philippines in Manila in 2008.
Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs for Policy Erlinda F. Basilio headed the Philippine delegation while Assistant Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs Mohamed Higazy led the Egyptian side.
During the review of the state of bilateral relations, the panels highlighted their robust diplomatic partnership. The Philippines seized the occasion to congratulate Egypt on the successful conduct of its Presidential elections last June 17. Related to this, Egypt commended the Philippines for inspiring democracy and managing its transition after a non-violent change in government.
Both sides discussed various aspects of cooperation, including cultural, economic, consular and political issues, with the aim of working towards the conclusion of pending bilateral agreements on both sides.
The Philippines and Egypt also exchanged views on regional and international matters of mutual concern, particularly the recent developments in Egypt, the Middle East peace process, the situation in Syria and Sudan, the Integration process within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
In the economic sphere, both sides noted the exponential growth in bilateral trade volume from a mere $6.3 million in 2003 to $ 99.9 million in 2011 and resolved to accelerate collaboration in providing further impetus to their commercial cooperation, especially on account of their matching potential as regional economic hubs, with the Philippines as a gateway to the Asian and Pacific commerce and Egypt as access point to the European and Middle East and North African (MENA) markets.
The meeting concluded with both sides looking forward to the next round of bilateral consultations, which are expected to be held in Manila in 2013.
On July 18 and 19, supplementary meetings were organized by the MFA for the Philippine delegation in the sidelines, with the Egyptian Social Fund for Development to share information on practices and explore prospects for cooperation in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and a meeting with the Egyptian Ministry of Health, Export Council officials, pharmaceutical companies’ executives to discuss the particulars of sourcing generic medicines from Egypt.
The success of the 7th JCM in reviving the momentum of relations between the Philippines and Egypt is expected to usher mutually advantageous prospects. As Ambassador Higazy reiterated during the JCM that the Philippines is “one of the pillars of its Asian policy,” Egypt is a Philippines’ foothold in the MENA region.
The Philippine delegation members were composed of Ambassador Claro Cristobal, Assistant Secretary for Middle East and African Affairs Petronila Garcia, Third Secretary Querobine Laccay, and Acting Director Jan Sherwin Wenceslao. The rest of the Egyptian panel members were Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for ASEAN and South East Asian Affairs Salwa Mofed Kamel, Ambassador-designate Mahmoud Mostafa Ahmed, Counselor for Philippine Affairs Rania El Banna, Counselor for Syrian Affairs Obeida El Dandarawy, Third Secretary for Sudan Affairs Osama Mahmoud Shoukry, Third Secretary for Palestine Affairs Dina Heikal, and Attaché Amira Al-Khormany.