Philippines, Malaysia to resume 8th JCM, consider opportunities in Halal industry

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Malaysia will continue political and economic cooperation, with an agreement to restart joint meetings and explore trade opportunities in the Halal industry.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim signed the Malacañang guest book on the first day of his official visit to the Philippines on March 1, 2023.

This comes after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim held a bilateral meeting on Wednesday, March 1. Anwar is the first head of government to be hosted by the Marcos Jr. adminstration.

“We agreed to continue our cooperation on political, political and security matters, rekindling the Joint Commission Meetings and joint initiatives to combat transnational crime and terrorism,” Marcos Jr. said in a joint press statement on Wednesday evening.

Anwar added that the meetings will be led by the foreign affairs ministers of both countries later this year.

The last JCM was held in 2011 in Manila. A statement dated April 15, 2011 by the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the 8th JCM was supposedly scheduled in 2013, which was supposed to be hosted by Malaysia.

The two leaders also dicussed the peace efforts in Mindanao, with Anwar saying it will continue to help through its Malaysia Technical Cooperation Program, as well as tensions in the region.

“We did discuss South China Sea issue and I shared President Marcos’ concern [that due] to the complexity and sensitivity the issue, we should try and engage and take the position at a multilateral level between ASEAN so that we have a comprehensive approach and achieve an amicable resolution to this outstanding problem,” Anwar said.

The two leaders also committed to expanding trade and investment opportunities to open up post-pandemic recovery.

“We agreed to reinvigorate trade and investment exchanges with a special focus on the Halal industry, agriculture and food security, and the digital economy,” Marcos Jr. said.

Anwar will be in the Philippines until Thursday, March 2. He is slated to receive an honorary degree from the University of the Philippines for his contributions in democracy, economics, and Islam.

He will also deliver a public lecture titled “30 Years After Asian Renaissance: Strategic Takeaways for ASEAN.”