An agreement delineating the boundary between the overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Indonesia and Philippines officially entered into force - Photo by MoFA Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – An agreement delineating the boundary between the overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Indonesia and Philippines officially entered into force following the exchange by the two countries’ foreign ministers of the instruments of ratification on August 1, in Bangkok Thailand.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi signed Protocols of exchange of the instruments of ratification concerning the delimitation of the EEZ between the two countries.

The agreement, which was first discussed on June 23-25, 1994 was formally signed by the two countries on 23 May 2014 in Manila. It was ratified by President Rodrigo Duterte on Feb. 15, 2017 and by the Indonesian Parliament on April 27, 2017. To complete domestic procedure, the Philippine Senate concurred with the president’ ratification on June 3, 2019.

The agreement is expected to benefit both countries, economically and politically, by promoting more bilateral cooperation in the EEZ in order to advance the common interest of managing and preserving the resources in the EEZ and further strengthening maritime security cooperation between the two countries.

The two largest archipelagic states in the world, are parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and thus are entitled to EEZ of 200 nautical miles. Under the convention, states have sovereign rights to explore and exploit, and conserve and manage natural resources, among others, within their EEZ.

Wide overlaps in the EEZ of the Philippines and Indonesia, which run across the Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea, and in the southern section of the Philippine Sea in the Pacific Ocean, required the two countries to negotiate and agree on a shared boundary.

On June 24, Indonesia and Philippines have agreed to implement a landmark deal that sets maritime boundaries in their overlapping areas. According to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the deal which was signed in May will booster economic ties by determining the limits of borders in the Mindanao and Sulawesi seas – marking at the end of 20 years of negotiation.

The implementation of the landmark agreement was tackled during a meeting between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Duterte on the sidelines of the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok in June.

The maritime boundary pact between the two nations could serve as a benchmark on how to peacefully resolve border disputes of countries. Aside from providing legal certainty on the EEZ boundary between the two countries, both leaders agreed that the agreement “promotes deeper cooperation in their respective maritime sectors and thus contributes to the prosperity and economic development of both countries and the larger region.”

Subsequently, when meeting with the Prime Minister of Viet Nam Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President Widodo encouraged the completion of negotiations on the EEZ boundary between the two countries. He hoped, that these problems can be resolved immediately if it is not resolved, it will potentially cause problems.

“The recent incidents between the sea security authorities of the two countries have been one of the impacts. For that, I hope that you can instruct the Viet Nam technical team to be able to immediately finalize the EEZ negotiations,” said Widodo.

For Indo-Pacific Cooperation, President Widodo expressed his appreciation for Thailand’s support for the ASEAN Outlook Concept on the Indo Pacific.

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