PBBM, Envoy to Boost Philippines-Lao PDR Ties in Agriculture, People-to-People Exchange

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Lao People’s Democratic Republic Ambassador to the Philippines Sonexay Vannaxay agreed to strengthen Manila and Vientiane’s ties in a wide range of areas, particularly agriculture and people-to-people exchange.

This comes after Vannaxay presented his credentials to the chief executive in Malacañan on Monday.

“It is time to explore our relationship between Lao PDR and the Philippines. I think it’s time to explore a stronger bilateral relationship. Since we are from the same region, there are many areas of which we have the same interests and the same difficulties, and the challenges we face,” the President said.

“Agriculture in the Philippines has become a very high priority for this government. And so if there is anything that we could collaborate and cooperate, it’s that,” Marcos pointed out.

For his part, Vannaxay lauded Manila and Vientiane’s “good relations in diplomatic and political affairs.”

“Since the establishment of our diplomatic ties over six decades, our two countries have maintained good relations in diplomatic and political affairs, as well as supporting each other in regional and international fora,” the envoy told President Marcos.

The envoy also sought the Philippines’ assistance in the health sector, particularly in the training of nursing professionals.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the Philippines for helping us in many areas… Help us in training the sectors of diplomat, as well as nursing and health areas,” the Lao ambassador said.

People-to-people ties also took center stage in the discussion, with the two leaders expressing assurance in harnessing the full potential of the two countries’ relations.

“That is a good start. I think if there is exposure, especially to younger people, then it’s a way to introducing the Philippines also, so that will make our people-to-people exchange grow,” President Marcos said.

The chief executive also noted his recent visit to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna, where he vowed to elevate the current condition of the rice industry and push for sustainable rice value chains.

Through the IRRI, the world’s premier research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger through rice science, the Philippines has helped its neighbors in scaling up rice production efforts and the transfer of technology, according to the President.

“We can start the agricultural exchanges in the exchange of technology, transfer of technology. And perhaps from there, we can do more,” Marcos told the ambassador.

The President also cited the great potential and a promising future for the Philippines and Lao PDR in terms of trade.

“We have already passed the trade levels during the pre-pandemic [period]. So we are doing more trade now than we were in 2019. So I think that’s a healthy sign that now we are back and we can continue to grow the trade relations. It seems natural because we are such close neighbors,” the President said.

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