The BrahMos agreement marks a watershed event in India-Philippine relations, broadening the scope of bilateral defence cooperation to include cyber security, space-based applications, and emerging technology.
The Indian envoy to Manila, Shambhu Kumaran, stated during a discussion organised by Ananta Aspen Centre, India’s top public policy think tank, that the defence pact stems from similarities and opportunities in the larger framework of India-Philippines’ existing bilateral ties.
Cybersecurity, space-based applications, and new technologies that benefit development and national security could all be major areas of future collaboration between the two countries, according to Kumaran, who added that talks on a variety of defence matters are now underway.
Kumaran also mentioned that there is some interest in aerospace and the possibilities for naval sector systems in the Philippines. “India anticipates long-term capabilities upgrading and much deeper military-to-military engagements with the Philippines.”
The Philippines is a fast-growing economy, with an average annual growth rate of roughly 6% during the last decade. India-Philippines relations are largely driven by economic connections. According to an estimate by a think organisation, the Philippines might be a trillion-dollar economy by 2030, according to the Indian envoy.
In terms of bigger policy approaches, the Philippines has evolved an independent foreign policy under President Duterte. It wants to broaden and diversify its relationships, as well as forge a vital new alliance. Similarly, India’s Act East Policy sees the Philippines to be complementary to its Indo-Pacific strategy.
According to Kumaran, India is the Philippines’ leading provider of medications. In ASEAN, the Philippines is India’s largest pharma market. In the Philippines, this translates to USD 300 million in pharmaceutical exports.
Kumaran stated that India’s vaccination capability, as well as larger healthcare segments such as medical devices and healthcare services, are extremely important to the Philippines.
Almost every major Indian IT firm has a subsidiary or branch in the Philippines. These IT companies have created between 150,000 and 250,000 employment in the Philippines. Wipro is one of the country’s largest IT staffing firms.
In the Philippines, India’s digital governance approach is well-liked. An Indian IT company serves as the major system integrator for some of the Philippines’ most important initiatives, such as the National ID Project.
According to Kumaran, there are also discussions about giving further soft loans to the Philippines, such as through Exim Bank Lines of Credit.