21, 2012 (MALAYA) BY REGINA BENGCO - President Aquino and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday agreed to support the economic growth of each other’s countries through investments and cooperation.

"I believe the good Prime Minister will agree with me that the resilient economies of the Philippines and Thailand are the product of our shared commitment to free trade and investment. Our open markets have paved the way for the exchange of goods and services that have translated into billions of US dollars. Capital and investment are pouring in. Businesses are expanding beyond our borders," Aquino said after their bilateral meeting.

Yingluck arrived in Manila at past 9 a.m. for her less-than-six-hour visit, which is the highlight of the 63rd anniversary of Philippine-Thai diplomatic relations. She laid a wreath at the monument of Jose Rizal in Rizal Park before going to Malacañan Palace at 11 a.m.

She left for Thailand at around 3 p.m.

Aquino said he and Yingluck are pleased by their countries’ economic relations.

He said Thailand, one of the Philippines’ largest trading partners, also hosts Philippine companies like San Miguel Corp., Universal Robina Corp., and the Liwayway Food Corp. He also said more than 30,000 Thai tourists visited the Philippines last year.

He invited Thai companies to invest in government’s Public-Private Sector Partnership Agreement program. Yingluck said Thailand is ready to support Thai investors who wish to invest in the PPP programs.

Aquino said they also agreed to expand cooperation in education, combating drug trafficking, and disaster risk reduction and management.

"We both look forward to Manila’s hosting of the 5th Meeting of the Philippines-Thailand Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), which will allow us to substantially discuss ways to further strengthen the implementation of our existing cooperation in the areas of energy, agriculture, defense and culture," he said.

Aquino thanked Yingluck for Thailand’s assistance to the victims of the flooding caused by storm Sendong (international name: Washi). Yingluck, for her part, thanked Aquino for the Philippines’ assistance when floods affected Thailand, including Bangkok.

Aquino said he reiterated to Yingluck the Philippines’ position that the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea should be solved via a rules-based approach. Although Thailand is not a party to the dispute, it is part of Asean which the Philippines has asked to help solve the conflict.

He and Yingluck also exchanged views on the Asean community building and their advocacies in the region.

Yingluck, in her speech, said Thailand appreciates the Philippines’ willingness to remove some restrictions on trade and investment. She expressed satisfaction that a draft convention on the avoidance of double taxation would be signed soon.

"Thailand is also ready to export more rice to the Philippines as part of our cooperation on food security," she said.

She also congratulated Aquino on the success of his administration’s anti-corruption policy.

The luncheon menu for Yingluck and her party included pandan crepe-rolled prawns and salmon, ulang (giant shrimp) bisque with ginger-flavored crab croquette and coconut, lemon myrtle crusted sea bass with basil, parsnip puree, baby roots and lemongrass cream, combination of chocolate opera and dayap (local lime) mousse

In his speech at the luncheon, Aquino congratulated Yingluck for being elected last year as Thailand’s first woman prime minister. "My mother, too, was the first female president of my country. And I wish you and your administration as resilient, as unifying and as hopeful," he said.

The Yingluck club: Kris Aquino plays matchmaker again By Christine O. Avendaño Philippine Daily Inquirer

[PHOTO - SPECIAL LUNCH: President Aquino gestures as he talks to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during a luncheon on her honor on Thursday in Malacañang. The Thai leader and her Cabinet met with their Filipino counterpart during their six-hour official visit in the country. EDWIN BACASMAS]

She came, she saw—and she conquered Kris Aquino.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra so impressed President Benigno Aquino III’s celebrity sister that Kris said in her Twitter account Thursday that the 44-year-old Thai leader and the 51-year-old Mr. Aquino looked like a lovely pair.

Yingluck, who is the sister of deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was in Manila for six hours in her first official visit to the Philippines.

After the meeting between Mr. Aquino and Yingluck at the Palace, Kris tweeted: “Came from Malacañang. Lunch for Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She’s tall & slim & attractive! 44 yrs old, bagay (a good match) for Pnoy! ”

Reactions from other Twitter users were not far behind.

Twitter user ggpetil said: “Hahaha. agree. thought the same way too when i saw her.”

Said another Twitter user, mrLaureano: “super like po!! Attractive nman po si president noy eh!! (President Noy is attractive himself) Yihhhiii!! Hehehe.”

But Kris’ tweet didn’t sit well with another Twitter user, dyonisii, who said: “only kris can be as crass as this.”

Yingluck’s preference

Twitter user gizellegay deflated the hopes of any would-be matchmaker, saying: “I think she’s already married.”

Gizellegay’s tweet appeared to find support in an article that appeared last August in the US Forbes magazine, which said that Yingluck “has one child with her common-law husband Anusorn Amornchat.”

A story by the Reuters news agency that same month said that Yingluck preferred “to spend time with common-law husband Anusorn Amornchat, managing director of mobile handset distributor M-Link Asia Corp., and her 9-year-old son Supasek.”

The Thai government website simply says she is “married to businessman Anusorn Amornchat.”

Like Cory

As with foreign leaders paying a visit to the country, the Palace pulled all the stops to welcome the statuesque, 5-foot-7-inch (1.72-meter) Yingluck—who was a bit taller than the 5-foot-6-inch (1.68-meter) Philippine President.

After a meeting with their respective officials, Mr. Aquino hosted a luncheon for his guests, where he congratulated Yingluck for “hold(ing) a distinct honor of being the first woman prime minister of Thailand.”

“My mother, too, was the first female president of my country,” the President said, referring to his late mother, Corazon Aquino.

Thanking Mr. Aquino for his hospitality, Yingluck said: “It is an honor and pleasure to be visiting the Philippines, a country that shares close ties with Thailand and one that has produced great talent on the global stage, including Manny Pacquiao in boxing and Lea Salonga on Broadway.”

“As a fellow Southeast Asian, we share your pride in the achievement of those famous Filipinos,” Shinawatra added.

In their talks, the two leaders thanked each other for the help each country gave the other when deadly floods struck Thailand and the Philippines, and pledged to work together in preventing similar disasters.

They also agreed to cooperate in combating drug trafficking, promoting education and expanding their economic ties.

More rice exports

Yingluck congratulated Mr. Aquino on his successful anticorruption policy and expressed Thai readiness to export more rice to the Philippines.

In a statement he read in their joint press conference, Mr. Aquino said the challenge for both countries was “to maximize our gains by strengthening trade liberalization and investment facilitation.”

He invited Thai companies to invest in his public-private partnerships (PPP) program and Yingluck said her country was “ready to provide support to Thai investors who wish to invest in the Philippines under the PPP.”

Mr. Aquino also said he discussed with Yingluck the position of the Philippines in resolving territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“I reiterated our position that a rules-based approach is the only legitimate way to address the disputes in the West Philippine Sea,” Mr. Aquino said, referring to the overlapping claims over the disputed sea.

In her statement, Yingluck said she and Mr. Aquino were satisfied with the results of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation, the program on the setting up of energy forums, and cooperation on education, narcotics prevention and fighting transnational crime.

“Thailand appreciates the Philippines’ high support for Thai investors and willingness to remove some restrictions on trade and investment,” she said. “Thailand is also ready to export more rice to the Philippines as part of our cooperation on food security.” With Inquirer Research

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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