MANILA -- Aimed at further exploring potentials in bilateral relations, the Philippine and Italian governments have inaugurated the first meeting of their bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) in Rome on October 30, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

Heading the Philippine delegation was Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo, along with Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo Nolasco, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Maria Cleofe Natividad, and other DFA officials.

For the Italian side, Undersecretary of State, Senator Benedetto dellaVedova led other Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC) officials, which included Director General for Global Affairs Massimo Gaiani and officers from the MFAIC Asia office.

“This first meeting of the bilateral consultations mechanism is a milestone event for our countries,” said Manalo.

“There is untapped potential in our multifaceted relations and we should identify sectors that our governments can develop,” he added.

During the bilateral consultations, the DFA said the Philippine and Italian delegations discussed a wide-range of issues, such as politics, security, economic cooperation, culture, migration, and regional issues, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and European Union relations.

The Philippines and Italy inaugurated their first bilateral consultations meeting as the two countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.

“We hope that this first meeting will help build momentum to strengthen our longstanding relations," Nolasco said.

With the mechanism in place, the envoy underscored that the two states' diplomats would be able to meet regularly to assess and review Philippine-Italian relations and discuss priority areas of cooperation.

During the meeting, the DFA disclosed it provided information on economic opportunities in the Philippines that Italian companies may want to explore such as infrastructure, trade, and agriculture.

The delegation from Manila also shared that the Philippines is undergoing a Golden Age of Infrastructure with the government’s Build Build Build program.

The agency confirmed that the two sides agreed to develop more economic relations by bringing together Philippine and Italian businesses and exchanging more information on commercial opportunities.

"They also committed to increase cultural and educational cooperation in the future," it added.

The inauguration saw the signing of the Philippines-Italy Air Services Agreement, which aims to facilitate and promote the expansion of regional and international air service opportunities for Philippines and Italy.

The Philippines-Italy BCM was established with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DFA and MFAIC in January 2017.
The MOU on the BCM provides for regular meetings of Philippine and Italian diplomats to systematically discuss and evaluate diplomatic relations. (PNA)