Saturday, 30 May 2009

Manila to sign 10 labor, trade, energy pacts with Seoul during PGMA visit to South Korea

MANILA (PNA)—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is due to sign 10 agreements on labor, trade and energy with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak during her official visit to South Korea on May 30 and 31, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

After the two-day visit, President Arroyo moves to Jeju island, south of Seoul, for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-South Korea Commemorative Summit on June 1 and 2.

PGMA’s visit to South Korea comes when the two countries celebrate the propitious 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, with the Philippines declaring 2009 as “Philippine-Korea Friendship Year.”

South Korea was the first destination of the Philippines’ peace keeping operations contingent, known as the Philippine Expeditionary Forces(PEFTOK), in 1953 when hostilities broke out between the north and south factions of Korea.

Of the 10 agreements, DFA said five would be government-to government undertaking to be signed at the Korean Blue House, including the US$ 13-million grant-in-aid by the South Korean government for the construction of Rice Processing Complexes in Pangasinan, Bohol and Davao del Sur.

Signatories to the South Korean grant includes Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung Hwan.

The other four are Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) for employment permit system (EPSD), on labor and manpower development cooperation, feasibility study on the multi-industry cluster (MIC) program, and agricultural, scientific and technical cooperation.

The MOUs, EPS and Labor and Manpower Development Cooperation are to be signed between Labor Secretary Marianito Roque and Korean Labor Minister Yee Young-Hee.

According to the DFA, the EPS deal would allow skilled Filipino workers to avail of jobs in South Korea because it renews a similar agreement that had expired in 2006. The other MOU is an institutional cooperation agreement.

Both Romulo and Yu will also sign a deal on MIC where a feasibility study on synergistic cooperation is funded by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and the president of the Korean Rural Development Authority are also slated to sign an agreement on agriculture cooperation.

The five government-to-private deals are MOUs on information exchange and cooperation between Philippine International Sisterhood and Twinning Association and the Korea Local Authorities Foundation for International Relations.

An MOU on friendship exchange between Benguet province and Chungcheungbukdo province is also to be signed.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency will sign an intitutional cooperation agreement.

An agreement between the DENR and the Korea Energy Economics Institute is also scheduled to be signed. According to the DFA, PGMA is scheduled to meet with the Filipino community in Seoul who will witness the signing of the various government-to-private deals.

Philippine-Korean bilateral trade amounts to US$ 5.06 billion. Korean investments here is estimated at US$ 3 billion. (PNA)

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