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31 March 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Philippines remains committed to finding a peaceful solution to the disputes in the West Philippine Sea to help bring about economic progress in the region.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. underscored this point during the Philippine Roundtable series hosted by the US-Philippines Society and the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. last week.

“The Philippines has undertaken a strong and consistent advocacy that the rule of law should prevail in settling the dispute in the South China Sea for the sake of peace, security, stability, and the wider community of nations,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

“Economic progress can happen more effectively when there is peace and security in the region,” the envoy said as he briefed a packed Romulo Hall on the status of the actions that Manila is undertaking to resolve the dispute.

These measures, according to the Ambassador, include the conclusion of a substantive and legally binding Code of Conduct between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the third-party adjudication of the various maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

It could be recalled that in 2013, the Philippines initiated an arbitration case against China in accordance with the provision of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China, however, refused to participate in the proceedings.

“We anticipate the issuance of a decision by the Arbitral Tribunal sometime between January and April 2016,” Ambassador Cuisia said as he expressed hope that the resolution of the dispute will help the Philippines, China and other countries in the region further improve their economic performance.

The Philippines recorded one of the highest Gross Domestic Product growth rates throughout Asia in 2014 at 6.1 percent, maintaining the positive momentum of 7.2 percent in 2013. The Philippines is set to perform equally as strong in 2015, with forecasts at 6.9 percent,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

The former Central Bank Governor, at the same time, said the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit that will held in the Philippines in November will be an excellent platform for the country to showcase its consistent economic performance.

“As chair, the country chose the theme Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World, which is in line with the government’s own goal of promoting inclusive economic growth in the country,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

“Inclusive growth can be promoted through the list of priorities which the Philippines is pursuing,” he said as he cited such goals as accelerating regional economic integration; investing in human capital development; improving the regulatory environment; expanding connectivity; strengthening economic and technical cooperation; mainstreaming small and medium enterprises; and advancing sustainability and resilience. ###