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13 January 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. addressed issues surrounding the South China Sea and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in a speech to the prestigious Foreign Policy Discussion Group (FPDG) of Washington, D.C. on 12 January 2016, arguing that an atmosphere characterized by tension and insecurity does not bode well for economic prosperity and integration.

The Ambassador outlined the Philippine position on the South China Sea. He expressed the view of the Philippines that China’s 9-dash line claim is excessive, expansive and in gross violation of international law, particularly the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which both the Philippines and China are signatories. He explained further that the Philippines turned to arbitration as a transparent, friendly, durable, and peaceful dispute settlement mechanism consistent with international law, including UNCLOS.

“What is happening in the South China Sea, if not managed adeptly, could have a profound impact on world trade, fish supply, and international norms and values, specifically the rule of law and a rules-based system,” Ambassador Cuisia told the FPDG.

The Ambassador also stated that freedom of navigation in the critical sea lanes of the region must be preserved. “The Philippines welcomes the freedom of navigation exercise (FONOPs) conducted by the USS Lassen in October 2015 and look forward to sustained FONOPs,” he added.

Ambassador Cuisia concluded that as the Philippine economy continues to develop and improve its competitiveness, of which regional integration is an important building block, peace and stability in the South China Sea is vital.

On the AEC, Ambassador Cuisia described the opportunities presented by an integrated ASEAN market and the state of ASEAN economic integration as of the end of 2015. He also referred to the importance of the AEC 2025 vision.

The envoy also briefly described the key results from the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in 2015, and how these are building blocks to achieving the Bogor Goals for free and open trade and investment in the Asia Pacific.

Ambassador Cuisia likewise reiterated the keen interest of the Philippines in joining the Trans Pacific Partnership.

"The Foreign Policy Discussion Group was honored to hear the views of Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr. at a dinner at the City Tavern Club on January 12.  His comments on important South China Sea issues and on the ASEAN Economic Community were well-received by our members, including a wide range of former U.S. Government officials and international business executives," said Mr. Thomas J. Reckford, President of the FPDG.

The FPDG was created to promote greater knowledge and understanding of problems affecting foreign policy among its members. It was established to offer a platform and a framework conducive to frank discussions of problems of foreign policy. Members of the FPDG are primarily from the Washington area and include former and present government officials, lawyers, representatives of the business sector, bankers, and academicians who are knowledgeable in foreign affairs. ###

13 January 2016

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. talks about South China Sea issues and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) before the Foreign Policy Discussion Group (FPDG) of Washington DC on 12 January 2016.

13 January 2016

Mr. Thomas J. Reckford, FPDG President, and Ambassador Cuisia during the Question and Answer Session following the Ambassador's speech to the FPDG.