Press Release
April 19, 2024

19 April 2024

Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri today met with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to discuss, among other things, a deeper engagement between the Philippines and New Zealand specifically in the area of economy and security.

Zubiri said the meeting with Luxon, who is in the Philippines as part of his working trip across Southeast Asia, is a good opportunity to cultivate closer relations with New Zealand as a partner in development in the Indo-Pacific region.

"We are especially interested in engaging New Zealand in deeper economic and agricultural cooperation," Zubiri said after the luncheon he hosted for the head of state in Fairmont Hotel in Makati.

"We have a lot to learn from New Zealand's success as a global agricultural exporter. Coming from Bukidnon, which I always call the New Zealand of Mindanao, I am very eager to initiate more agricultural knowledge sharing, capacity building, and technology transfer initiatives between our countries," the Senate chief added.

The Prime Minister came accompanied by a sizeable delegation from New Zealand's business sector.

The Senate President and the Prime Minister also discussed bilateral security cooperation, with an emphasis on the fact that the Philippines and New Zealand are like-minded states, who share in the goal of upholding a free, open and secure Indo-Pacific region.

"We count on New Zealand as an ally in peacekeeping in the region, and toward this end, we hope to establish stronger security cooperation with them," Senate President Zubiri said.

This discussion comes in the wake of the agreement between President Bongbong Marcos Jr,. and Prime Minister Luxon to sign a Mutual Logistics Supporting Arrangement by the end of this year, and also to establish a Comprehensive Partnership by 2026. For his part, PM Luxon said that as a trading nation, New Zealand is cognizant of the security issues in the region and how this is tied to the economy of Southeast Asia and its trading partners.

"What affects you, affects us," he said.

The Philippines is the Prime Minister's last stop in his tour of Southeast Asia before his return to New Zealand. Joining him are Simon Watts MP, Minister of Climate Change and Revenue, and Paulo Garcia MP, New Zealand's first Member of Parliament to come from Filipino descent.

Representing the Philippine side at the meeting as well were Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Minority Leader Koko Pimentel, Senator JV Ejecito, Senator Mark Villar, Senator Cynthia Villar, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Anti-Red Tape Authority Director General Ernesto Perez, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Jerome Oliveros, and Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Kira Christianne Azucena.

Last year, the Senate formed its own Philippines-New Zealand Parliamentary Friendship Association, headed by Senator Pia Cayetano.

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