PH, Israel boost cooperation on environment, security, trade

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 5)  —  The Philippines and Israel signed a deal on environmental protection on Monday, where the countries' top diplomats also discussed the need to expand ties on various issues including defense, security, and trade.

The memorandum of understanding signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Israeli Foreign Minister Eliyahu Cohen will provide opportunities to share best practices in environment-related issues, ecosystem preservation, disaster risk management, and promotion of environmental technologies.

"We believe that close cooperation in the field of environmental protection can provide an important contribution to the friendly relations between our two states and to help in addressing issues of sustainability, climate change and help protect our planet," Cohen said.

Cohen said Tel Aviv is committed to assist and share knowledge with Manila on agriculture, water, and innovation and technology.

Israel also said it will discuss with the Philippines its "close collaboration" in defense and the further enhancement of the partnership.

"Israel has a lot of experience and proven systems and technologies that could assist the Philippines in maintaining peace and security," Cohen said.

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"In the context of the geopolitical environment in the Middle East and Asia, the Philippine side emphasized the importance of promoting peace and stability, as well as confidence-building with key partners in these regions," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.

The dialogue also highlighted the need to boost economic and trade ties. Cohen said Israel is looking at agriculture productivity, food security, cyber security and digitalization.

"The trade figures this year show it was a record year, more than half a billion dollars," the Israeli foreign minister said. "I call the two governments to try to double it by next year to $1 billion."

According to Israel's Economic & Commercial Mission to the Philippines, 2022 was a "track record year for Israel-Philippines bilateral trade, with an impressive 70% year-over-year growth rate." It added that machinery and electronic equipment were the top exported goods from Tel Aviv to Manila.

"Our dialogue allows us to discuss the whole range of bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and Asia, set the direction of our partnerships, and find ways to deepen and strengthen our engagement," Manalo said.

CNN Philippines correspondent Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.