The Philippines and Israel expressed openness to possible partnerships in agriculture and water management as well as in establishing direct flights between the two countries, the Palace said Tuesday.
“I think that we can work together on the segment of agriculture. I just let you know that our land, 60 percent of our land is desert. But although 60 percent of our land is desert, we were able to provide all our water needs,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during a meeting in Malacañang.
Cohen suggested the two nations open an agricultural hub as he pushed for bilateral collaboration on water management, noting Israel’s vast experience in this sector.
Mr. Marcos said he considers agricultural development as very important as he thanked the Israeli official for his proposals.
“When we look at the economy as hard to just test – how do we fix the economy? It always comes down to agriculture first. So, the offers that you make for assistance and partnership in those two areas are very, very welcome,” the President said.
Cohen, during the Israel-Philippines Business Forum, noted that bilateral trade volume can be upgraded “to new heights” to strengthen the economies of both countries and improve their citizens’ lives.
“I challenge you today – let’s work together to double trade figures by the end of 2023 to 1 billion dollars. It’s realistic and possible,” he said.
Cohen described the Philippine economy as “vibrant” and “growing.”
“The economy here is dynamic, many entrepreneurs, innovators, users of technology, and it’s a young and English-speaking society,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Israeli economy is also the “the go to place when you are looking for affordable, reliable and innovative solutions for many of those challenges,including on agriculture, water, cybersecurity and bio-convergence,” Cohen said.
“Israel is an economy based on innovation and finding solutions for complex challenges, often applying out of the box type of ingenuity.
Being a small economy, Israeli entrepreneurs are always looking for new partners outside of Israel,” he said.
Cohen also raised the issue of establishing direct flights between the Philippines and Israel to boost tourism and economic ties.
Bilateral trade stood at over $534 million in 2022, the first time the two countries crossed the half billion dollar threshold.