By Michaela Del Callar, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
President Benigno S. Aquino III will go on a state visit to New Zealand in October, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Friday.
Del Rosario was in New Zealand on Aug. 21 and 22 upon the invitation of counterpart Foreign Minister Murray McCully to lay the groundwork for Aquino’s upcoming trip, his first since assuming the presidency in 2010.
Several agreements on trade, mining and energy have been lined up for signing in the state visit to take place sometime in October, Del Rosario said.
“We will be signing anywhere between three and five agreements,” Del Rosario told reporters in an interview.
He said both nations are expected to finalize a Working Holiday Scheme accord and a possible memorandum of agreement on Geothermal Energy Cooperation, and the finalization of the Philippine Dairy Development Program.
Del Rosario said Manila was also looking into ways on how to plug the trade imbalance between the Philippines and New Zealand.
The Philippines, New Zealand’s third largest market for its dairy products, is considering exporting products such as automobile, electronics, household furniture, furnishings, food, garments and plastic materials, to balance the trade, Del Rosario said.
Despite the trade imbalance, business exchanges between the two countries have flourished in the last several years.
Del Rosario said companies in both countries have been exploring and engaging in business and investment opportunities in the dairy, information technology, geothermal and other sectors.
When he was in Wellington, Del Rosario briefed Minister of Trade Tim Groser and New Zealand business leaders on the steadily improving business climate of the Philippines, in view of President Aquino’s campaign towards good governance, transparency and accountability.
They also exchanged views on various regional and international matters, such as New Zealand’s policy to actively pursue and conclude free trade agreements.