The Philippines had conveyed that it interested in buying the BrahMos missiles from India

INDIA's Act East policy seems to be taking strides in matching the rhetoric its foreign policy establishment has put out for so long. More particularly, India has engaged with partners in the Pacific where potential for strategic cooperation was, for many reasons, unexploited. The Philippines is one such ASEAN country with which India's recent engagements have seen considerable improvement. India and the Philippines are both vibrant democracies with large demographic capacities. The strategic calculations in Manila seem to have found New Delhi willing in maintaining the regional Indo-Pacific balance of power and deepening bilateral relations for mutual growth.

Recent Developments

The Philippines has decided to buy at least seven Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and eight Dornier 228 aircraft from India. Both countries also signed the "Implementing Agreement" in March, 2021 which will facilitate arms purchases between them. Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had conveyed that his country was interested in buying the BrahMos missiles from India.

In 2020, the Philippines' Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar chaired a joint commission on bilateral cooperation and decided to strengthen defence engagements, maritime cooperation and defence training. They also agreed to cooperate on counter-terrorism and information sharing, among other different areas such as tourism. India's INS Ranvijay and INS Kora were deployed in the Pacific in August 2021 for a maritime partnership exercise with the Philippines' BRP Antonio Luna in the West Philippine Sea. Many operational manoeuvres in the exercise allowed for greater interoperability between the two navies.

The Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been coordinating with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to promote bilateral trade and business ties. A preferential trade agreement (PTA) between the two countries, which will boost the value and volume of bilateral trade, may soon see the light of the day. Last year, the Philippines' imports from India stood at $1.51 billion and exports to India amounted to $547.98 million. Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that there was huge potential for greater economic exchange between the two countries.