Foreign relations of the Philippines

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Philippines
Trust rating of Seven countries, October 2016[1]
Country Much trust Undecided Little trust M-L
 United States 76 13 11 +66
 Australia 62 21 15 +47
 Japan 56 22 21 +34
 Norway 41 31 26 +16
 Netherlands 40 31 26 +14
 Taiwan 36 29 34 +3
 China 22 22 55 -33

Foreign relations of the Philippines are administered by the President of the Philippines and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Philippine international affairs are influenced by ties to Southeast Asian neighbors, United States, and the Middle East.

The Philippines is a founding member of the United Nations;[2] an elected member of the Security Council[3] and participant in the FAO, International Labour Organization (ILO), UNESCO and World Health Organization. Like most nations, the Philippines is a signatory of Interpol. The Philippines is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia Summit. It was formerly a member of the now-defunct the Latin Union and the SEATO. Declaring itself as independent of any major power block of nations, the Philippines is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Economically, the Philippines is a participant in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Asian Development Bank, the Colombo Plan, Group of 24, G-20, G-77, the World Bank, Next Eleven and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Foreign policy[edit]

The Philippines (in red) has embassies in various nations (in blue).

Philippine foreign policy is based on the advancement of Filipino ideals and values, which include the advancement of democracy and advocacy for human rights worldwide.

The nation is currently actively engaging with regional neighbors in Southeast Asia through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (as a founding member) with the intention of strengthening regional harmony, stability, and prosperity. It has been a supporter of East Timor since the latter's independence and has expanded trade links with its traditional allies Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Relations with Vietnam and Cambodia have thawed in the 1990s after their entry into the ASEAN.

Ties to the United States have affected Filipino international relations. The Republic of the Philippines considers itself a staunch ally of the United States and has supported many points of American foreign policy. This is evident in the Philippines' participation in the Iraq War and the War on Terror. Speaking to this support, U.S. President George W. Bush praised the Philippines as a bastion of democracy in the East and called the Philippines America's oldest ally in Asia. President Bush's speech on October 18, 2003 was only the second U.S. Presidential address to the Philippine Congress; U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered the first.

With a robust relationship to the United States, the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sought to establish closer ties to its earlier colonizer, Spain. This was inspired by the attendance of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía at the June 12, 1998 celebration honoring the centennial of the Philippines' independence from Spain. President Macapagal-Arroyo made two official visits to Spain during her presidency.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been a participant in various regional conflicts, including the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Recently, the Philippines sent peacekeeping forces to Iraq, in addition to civilian doctors, nurses and police. However, the Filipino mission was later recalled as collateral for the release of a Filipino hostage. As part of a UN Peacekeeping Operation, Philippine Army General Jaime de los Santos became the first commander of troops responsible for maintaining order in East Timor.

The Philippines is in tension with rival international claimants to various land and water territories in the South China Sea. The Philippines is currently in dispute with the People's Republic of China over the Camago and Malampaya gas fields. The two countries are also in dispute over the Scarborough Shoal. Additionally, the Philippines has a disputed claim over the Spratly Islands.

Relations with other Asian nations have been strong. Japan, which has been an active donor of aid, has close ties with the country. Relations with China have recently been expanded, especially with regards to the economy. The presence of a large South Korean expatriate community has led to the expansion of relations between the two nations. India has also been an important partner, as have countries outside of Asia such as Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia.

In recent years, the Philippines has been distancing itself from the West due to its active role in the Non-Aligned Movement and the G-77. This trend is reflected in its recent positions on Kosovo, Iran and Israel. Despite this, its relations with its defense treaty ally, the United States, remains vigorously strong. Its relations with Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and Vietnam have strengthened into a new depth due to closer regional diplomatic, economic, cultural, and defense cooperation and the flaring tensions in the South China Sea dispute. On the other hand, relations with China continue to deteriorate due to disputes concerning the West Philippine Sea, which is in the eastern portion of the South China Sea. Relations with Malaysia have been in a cordial and diplomatic stance due to safety measures since Malaysia was found to have been funding Islamic terrorist groups in the southern Philippines in the past due to the North Borneo dispute. The country is campaigning for Timor-Leste's membership in ASEAN. The Philippines is an active member in ASEAN with close ties with most of the members of the organization. It is expected to be the biggest economy in ASEAN by 2050.

Relations with specific countries and regions[edit]


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Armenia May 20, 1992[4]
  • The Philippines and Armenia established bilateral relations in 1992.
  • Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan visited the Philippines in 2012, the highest government official of Armenia to ever visit the Philippines.[5]
  • Armenia has an ambassador resident in Hanoi.[6]
  • Philippines has an ambassador resident in Moscow.[6]
 Azerbaijan March 27, 1992[4]

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received the credentials of incoming ambassador of the Philippines Marilyn Jusayan Alarilla. During a meeting following the ceremony, the ambassador conveyed greetings of the Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to the Azerbaijani leader. She noted the Philippines was interested in developing the cooperation with Azerbaijan in different areas, including energy, science and technologies. President Ilham Aliyev said there was good potential for developing Azerbaijan–Philippines relations in many fields, particularly economic one.

 Bangladesh February 24, 1972

Bangladesh and the Philippines have had a very close and friendly relations since the birth of Bangladesh. The Philippines supported the liberation of Bangladesh and recognized it on February 24, 1972. The Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations spoke in favor of the nation during its liberation struggle and also during Bangladesh’s admission to the United Nations in 1974.

 Brunei January 1, 1984

In April 2009, The Philippines and Brunei signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that seeks to strengthen the bilateral cooperation of the two countries in the fields of agriculture and farm-related trade and investments.[7] The MOU further strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two Southeast Asian countries, particularly in the fields of agriculture and farm-related trade and investments.[8] The two countries have agreed to cooperate in plant science, crops technology, vegetable and fruit preservation, biotechnology, post-harvest technology, livestock, organic agriculture, irrigation and water resources and halal industry.[9]

 Burma September 29, 1956
 Cambodia 1957
 China June 9, 1975
 East Timor May 20, 2002[10]
 Georgia September 21, 1992[4]
 India November 16, 1949
 Indonesia June 21, 1951
 Iran February 1964
 Iraq January 12, 1975
 Israel February 26, 1958
 Japan July 1943
 Kazakhstan March 19, 1992[4]

Diplomatic relations between the Kazakhstan and the Philippines were formally established on March 19, 1992. The Philippines maintains relations with Kazakhstan through its embassy in Moscow in Russia. Kazakhstan has an honorary consulate in Manila.[11][12]

Trade between Kazakhstan and the Philippines amounted to 7.3 million during January to November 2010. In 2009, about 1,500 Kazakh tourists visited the Philippines. As of 2009, there are about 7,000 Overseas Filipino Workers are working in Western Kazakhstan, mostly in the oil and gas sector. Kazakhstan is attracting Philippine companies to invest in the country.[13]

On 2011, Kazakhstan is planning to put up a Kazakhstan house in the Philippines either in the Bonifacio Global City or Makati to showcase Kazakh products and promote its tourist destinations. There is also plans to put up a Philippine House in Kazakhstan for the same purpose and there is also plans to put Filipino art exhibits in Kazakhstan[14]

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and his 27 delegates arrived in the Philippines for a three-day state visit on November 10, 2003 at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City. The Kazakh officials met with their Filipino counterparts and conducted meetings. Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met with Nazarbayev to finalize the Philippine's intent to import oil and coal from Kazakhstan and discussed possible infrastructure projects in the Central Asian country.[11]

The Philippines also supported Kazakhstan bid to become a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum on security.[13]

 Kyrgyzstan April 24, 1992[4]
 Laos January 14, 1955
 Malaysia 1959
 Mongolia October 11, 1973
   Nepal February 12, 1960

The Philippines and Nepal established diplomatic relations on February 12, 1960. Both countries are members of the Non-Aligned Movement. There are about 300 Filipinos living in Nepal, who were either missionaries, professionals, skilled workers, volunteers or spouses of Nepalese or other nationals as of March 2011. Approximately 500 Nepalese students are studying in the Philippines for their higher-level education.[15][16]

 North Korea July 12, 2000[17]
 Oman October 6, 1980
 Pakistan September 1949
 Qatar April 12, 1975
 Saudi Arabia 1969
 South Korea March 3, 1949
 Sri Lanka January 1951
 Thailand June 14, 1949

The Philippines recognize the One-China policy but has informal relations to the Republic of China (ROC, also known as Taiwan) through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Manila.

 Tajikistan March 25, 1992[4]
 United Arab Emirates June 17, 1980
 Uzbekistan April 13, 1992[4]

First round of political consultations were held in Tashkent on March 3, 2011 between the Philippines and Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan expressed support for the Philippines bid to gain observer status in the OIC and hopes for the resolution of the Muslim insurgency mainly affecting the southern part of the Philippines. The Philippines highlighted untapped potentials, despite remote geographical position, for developing trade-economic cooperation and expanding interactions between financial institutions.[18]

 Vietnam July 12, 1976
 Yemen May 4, 1977[19]

In 2011, there were about 1,600 Filipinos working in Yemen with about a thousand of them staying in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a. Majority of them work in the health and petroleum industry. Yemen supports the Philippines' observer status bid to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and a peaceful resolution to the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines.[20]


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Angola September 14, 2001[21]
 Burkina Faso October 10, 2002[22]
 Cape Verde March 21, 2000[23]
 Republic of the Congo January 19, 2000[24]
 Djibouti June 27, 1977

The Philippines supported the independence of Djibouti and recognized it on June 27, 1977. Djibouti has opened its consulate in the Philippines to maintain relations between the two countries.

 Egypt January 18, 1955[25]
 Equatorial Guinea

Both the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea were former Spanish colonies. There are about 4,000 Filipino workers in Equatorial Guinea. There has been cordial ties especially in the fields of trade and investments, agriculture, education, cultural and technical cooperation. The Philippines is interested in partnering with Equatorial Guinean entities to conduct oil exploration and the possibility of importing oil from Equatorial Guinea. The Philippines is also interested in developing infrastructure for seaports to improve cargo handling and delivery. He likewise expressed Philippine interest in developing facilities for seaports to improve cargo handling and delivery.[26]

 Ethiopia 2013

The Philippines and Ethiopia signed their first air agreement in 2014.[27]

 Ghana March 6, 1957

The Philippines has recognized the independence of Ghana on 6 March 1957. Diplomatic relations were established during the recognition of the state. The Republic of Ghana has opened its consulate in the Philippines to extend and render assistance to Ghanaians and help maintain relations between the two countries.[28]

 Gambia June 26, 1996[29]
 Guinea-Bissau October 26, 1976[19]
 Ivory Coast August 7, 1960

The Philippines and Côte d'Ivoire established diplomatic relation and recognized a state on August 7, 1960. There were some 100 Filipinos in Côte d'Ivoire, mostly professional and skilled workers and some permanent residents, and the Philippine government had repatriated 10 Filipinos after tensions in the country started following the second round of the 2010 presidential elections.[30]

 Kenya 1975
 Lesotho April 15, 1998[31]
 Libya November 17, 1976
 Madagascar 2014
 Mauritania September 30, 2013[32]
 Malawi May 3, 2001[33]
 Morocco December 27, 1975[19]
 Mozambique March 27, 1997[34]
 Nigeria 1962
 São Tomé and Príncipe November 8, 2000[35]
 Senegal March 15, 1976[19]
 Sierra Leone 1991

Sierra Leone and the Philippines have pledged to strengthen bilateral relations to the mutual benefit of both countries. The two countries, which are celebrating 20 years of diplomatic relations this week, vow to work further to expand their relations in the socio-economic, political and cultural fields.[36]

 South Africa November 1, 1993
 South Sudan March 13, 2013
 Sudan 2013
 Togo August 24, 2000[citation needed]
 Tunisia December 12, 1975[19]


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Antigua and Barbuda July 16, 2010[37]
 Argentina 1948
 Bolivia January 7, 1970

Bolivia and Philippines were both Spanish colonies, diplomatic relations between the two countries began in 1970. The Philippine Embassy in Buenos Aires exercised jurisdiction over Bolivia. Furthermore, the Embassy of Bolivia in Tokyo has jurisdiction over the Philippines. Philippine general has two honorary consulates in Bolivia in the cities of La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. There are about 15 Filipinos in Bolivia most of them are religious missionaries and others are married with Bolivians.[38]

 Brazil July 4, 1946
 Bahamas 1976[39]
 Barbados June 22, 2009

Barbados established formal relations with the Philippines with the signing of a Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations in New York on June 22, 2009. The establishment of relations was proposed by Barbados the year before through the Philippines' embassy in Caracas in Venezuela. Barbados is currently under the jurisdiction of the Philippine embassy in Caracas.[40]

 Canada 1949
 Chile July 4, 1946
 Colombia July 5, 1946


 Cuba September 3, 1952[42]
 Dominica May 3, 2011[43]

Grenada has a consulate in Makati City.

 Guyana September 25, 2008[44][45]
 Jamaica May 28, 1980[19]
 Mexico April 14, 1953
 Peru November 30, 1974[19]
 Saint Kitts and Nevis August 11, 2000[46]
 Saint Lucia March 29, 2016[47]
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines October 11, 2000[48]
 Trinidad and Tobago April 18, 2000[49]
 United States July 4, 1946
 Venezuela August 27, 1968


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Andorra February 22, 2000[50]
 Belarus May 22, 1996[51]
 Belgium 2016
 Bosnia and Herzegovina January 12, 2001[52]
 Croatia February 25, 1993
 Czech Republic 1973
 Cyprus March 6, 1980[53]
 Denmark September 28, 1946
 Estonia September 17, 1991[54]
 Finland July 14, 1955

The Philippines and Finland share bilateral diplomatic relations established in July 14, 1955. The Philippines has an embassy in Helsinki and Finland has an embassy in Manila. The Embassy in Manila is also the Finland's representative in some Pacific Island nations such as Palau, Micronesia and Marshall Islands.

 France June 26, 1947
 Germany April 25, 1955
 Greece 1947
 Holy See April 9, 1951
 Hungary 1976
 Iceland February 24, 1999
 Ireland 1984
 Italy July 9, 1947[55]
 Latvia December 17, 1991[56]
 Liechtenstein November 24, 1995[57]
 Lithuania 2014
 Norway March 2, 1948
 Poland September 22, 1973[19]
 Romania April 12, 1975
 Russia June 2, 1976
 San Marino April 3, 2003[58]
 Serbia 1972
  • Both countries have established diplomatic relations in 1972.[59]
  • A number of bilateral agreements in various fields have been concluded and are in force between both countries.[60]
 Spain September 27, 1947
 Sweden 1947

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Sweden were established in 1947, and have steadily intensified during the years. Sweden has long been a development partner of the Philippines. Sweden’s cooperation with the Philippines focuses on issues concerning the environment, human rights, good governance, training, and assistance to non-government organizations (NGOs).

  Switzerland August 30, 1956
 Turkey June 13, 1949[61]
 Ukraine April 7, 1992[4]
 United Kingdom July 4, 1946


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Australia May 22, 1946
 Cook Islands December 12, 2011[62]
 Fiji 1973[63]
 New Zealand
 Palau July 15, 1997
 Papua New Guinea
 Samoa 1981[65]
 Solomon Islands September 27, 2004[66]
 Vanuatu 2015

Relations with former states[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Soviet Union June 2, 1976

The Philippines and Soviet Union had mutual distrust due to ideological difference even though the later began to soften ties with the Soviet Union and its allies.

 South Vietnam

The Philippines recognized South Vietnam on July 1955. South Vietnam requested the Philippines to aid them in the Vietnam War. The Philippine embassy in Saigon ceased operations on April 29, 1975

 South Yemen October 21, 1977[19]
 Yugoslavia March 1, 1972[19]

Multilateral relations[edit]

Organizations Formal Relations Began Notes
 Association of Southeast Asian Nations

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration together with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The Philippines was one of the Founding nations.

 European Union 2013

The European Union and the Philippines shares diplomatic, economic, cultural and political relations. The European Union has provided €3 million to the Philippines to fight poverty and €6 million for counter-terrorism against terrorist groups in the Southern Philippines. The European Union is also the third largest trading partner of the Philippines. There are at least 31,961 Europeans (not including Spaniards) living in the Philippines.

 United Nations October 24, 1945

When the Philippines joined signing the United Nations Charter in San Francisco, United States. This partnership has progressed since then into a number of development initiatives, activities and programs. Technical, financial and other forms of assistance to the Philippines began in the late 1940, as the country recovered from the ravages of World War II. The partnership between the United Nations and the Philippines began in 1945.


International disputes[edit]

The Spanish Administration governed various Pacific island colonies from Manila. These include the present-day Guam, and parts of Micronesia, all of which were given separate administrations under American oversight after Spain transferred power to the United States in accordance with the Treaty of Paris. Spanish Manila also governed possessions in Borneo, Halmahera, Taiwan, Pulau Ternate and Pulau Tidore, all of which transferred to non-American entities after the Spanish–American War.


See also: Sabah dispute

Sabah, the largest region which the Philippines claim, is now an integral part of Malaysia. On January 23, 1878, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Alam leased or ceded (depending on translation used) his territory in Borneo, in which is now Sabah, to Austrian Gustavus von Overbeck. The Sultan was paid 5000 Malayan Dollars per year for the agreement. In 1882, Sabah became a British Protectorate, became a British colony after World War II, and joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.[67]

Philippine Presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Ferdinand Marcos openly claimed Sabah. The latter even ordered Sabah to be put into the Philippine map. Despite challenges of the Philippine government to bring the matter of the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Malaysia still rejects those calls. During 2002, violent mass deportations of illegal Filipinos residing in Sabah[68] resulted in more clamor for the Sabah claim. Up to this day, Malaysia still pays the annual cession payment of 5,300 Malaysian Ringgit to the Sultan's heirs.

Sulawesi Sea Islands[edit]

The case of Sipadan and Ligitan, which were in dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia, was taken into the ICJ, in which the former won. Sipadan and Ligitan are technically part of Sabah state, and thus would be part of the claim of the Sulu Sultanate's heir, the Philippines.

Macclesfield Bank[edit]

Macclesfield Bank, located east of the Paracel Islands, distantly southwest of the Pratas Islands and north of the Spratly Islands, is claimed by China[69] and Taiwan (Republic of China).[70][71]

Some sources[71][72] state that the Philippines claims this underwater feature. However, Jose Zaide, a Philippine diplomat of ambassadorial rank, has written that the Philippines does not claim the Macclesfield Bank.[73]

Scarborough Shoal[edit]

The Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal), located west of Palauig, Zambales, are claimed by the Philippines, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. The Philippines bases its claim on its close proximity of the Scarborough Shoal to the Philippines. It also says that the Scarborough Shoal is within the Filipino Exclusive Economic Zone and argues terra nullius. A Yuan dynasty map dated as early as 1279 is the basis for the claim of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. They argue that the area was historically used by their fishermen.

Spratly Islands[edit]

The Spratly Islands are a group of islands, reefs, and rocks located about 300 kilometers West of Aborlan, Palawan. The Philippines, along with the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei expressed claims. The Philippines officially staked a claim to some of the islands during the United Nations convention[when?], although it was first expressed in 1956, when Tomás Cloma, a Philippine mariner, declared some of the eastern Spratlys as a protectorate of the Philippines. Based on proximity and on the United Nations Archipelagic Doctrine, the Philippines can claim some of the Spratlys as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Whether these arguments (or any other used by the Philippines) would hold up in court is debatable but possibly moot, as the PRC and Vietnam seem unwilling to legally substantiate their claims and have rejected Philippine challenges to take the dispute to the World Maritime Tribunal in Hamburg.

See also[edit]


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