MANILA, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines will be pushing for a number of initiatives in the upcoming ministerial meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Vietnam.
Specifically, the Philippine delegates will push for the country's interests in four key areas -- economic cooperation, disaster management, political and security cooperation and human rights -- which are in line with the foreign policy priorities laid down by President Benigno Aquino III, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The Philippines looks forward to seeking support from and working together with ASEAN and its dialogue partners in addressing national challenges to promote trade and investment, achieve international competitiveness, and attain greater social equity and justice," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo said.
The various free trade agreements the Philippines had with its neighbors will allow the Philippines greater access to an enlarged and efficient market country and improve employment opportunities for Filipinos, Romulo said.
In particular, Romulo said the Philippines is pushing for the development of an "ASEAN Roll-on/Roll-off (RO-RO) Network" to promote intra- and inter-island connectivity among the archipelagic economies of ASEAN to support the long-distance regional RO-RO routes.
In line with this, the Philippines will also suggest cruise tourism, visa relaxation policies, and packaging and promotion of ASEAN Heritage Circuits to boost the tourism industry of the region.
"The Philippines believes that connectivity with its (ASEAN neighbors) will spur economic growth and tourism, especially through the development of a nautical highway and the prioritization of high impact flagship projects until 2015," Romulo said, adding that he needs the participation of the private sector in this arena.
Meanwhile, the Philippines plans to highlight the importance of establishing the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and Korea) Emergency Rice Reserve to safeguard the countries' food security issues in the region. The country will also reiterate its committed to become the champion of human rights again, Romulo said.
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