Philippines Explores Trilateral Partnership with India and Japan for Maritime and Economic Growth

MAKATI - The Philippine government is actively considering a trilateral partnership with Japan and India, aimed at enhancing maritime security and fostering economic development.

According to Philippines News Agency, speaking at a Stratbase ADRI forum in Makati on Friday, such collaboration holds promise due to the shared geographical and strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region among the three nations.

Lazaro highlighted the natural connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans as a foundation for aligning the interests and objectives of these countries within the Indo-Pacific area. She emphasized the potential of this trilateral cooperation to propel the economic growth of the Philippines, India, and Japan, while also advancing shared regional prosperity. Beyond maritime security, the partnership is seen as a means to bolster efforts in green transformation and infrastructure connectivity, ultimately enhancing intra-regional trade and travel.

Currently, the Philippines maintains two active trilateral partnerships: one with the United States and Japan focusing on broader strategic concerns, and another with Malaysia and Indonesia, concentrating on anti-piracy and counterterrorism efforts. Lazaro noted that establishing a similar tripartite arrangement with India and Japan would require extensive discussions and procedural formalities.

Additionally, the Philippines is keen on initiating bilateral maritime dialogue with India on a government-to-government level, which would complement its existing maritime dialogue mechanism with Japan. This move is seen as a step towards facilitating the proposed Philippine-India-Japan trilateral cooperation in the future.

The Stratbase forum served as a platform to explore the potential of such a partnership, particularly in ensuring maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. Kenichi Matsuda, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Japan, expressed support for the initiative, aligning it with Japan's vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. He underscored the importance of collaborative efforts that could significantly influence the region's future.

Echoing these sentiments, Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran advocated for the development of small, feasible projects to demonstrate the practical benefits of the proposed cooperation. He stressed the importance of building public and political support to expand this initiative into a broader strategic framework, reflecting the clear logic and potential benefits of engagement among the three Indo-Pacific democracies.