Asset Publisher

Single title

The multifaceted agenda of Marcos’s visit to Germany

by Tonette de Jesus

Investments, integrity, and international courts

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s recent visit to Germany serves as another piece of evidence indicating the clear pivot of the Philippines toward its traditional allies.

Asset Publisher

Marcos’s journey to Germany—marking the first time in a decade that a Philippine President visited (the last one made by former President Benigno Aquino III)—coincides with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries. This short visit is beyond ceremonial, as it captures crucial matters such as expanding trade and investment, addressing the contentious West Philippine Sea (WPS) tensions, navigating the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s probe on the Philippines’ war on drugs, and delving into mutual interests concerning global challenges such as the war in Ukraine and climate change.


Economic engagements and bilateral agreements

One of the key highlights of Marcos’s visit to Germany was the acquisition of $4 billion in investment commitments from German firms, underscoring the economic dimension as one of the principal motives for diplomatic discussions. The investment commitments cover different sectors, namely healthcare, innovation and technology, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and automotive, to name a few. These reinforce Philippine-German economic ties and reflect a vote of confidence from Germany in the Philippines’ market potential and its role as an important economic partner in the Asia-Pacific region. The signing of eight agreements, which the commitments fall under, further cement how economic diplomacy helps promote sustainable development and mutual economic prosperity.

Moreover, discussions around cyber and maritime defense cooperation, along with the joint declaration to bolster cooperation in the maritime sector, signal a deepening of bilateral security ties. These developments hold significant importance given the evolving security challenges in Asia and the Pacific, such as cyber threats and maritime security challenges.


The West Philippine Sea and international support

A crucial aspect of Marcos’s visit was the focus on the WPS, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressing support for a rules-based international order. This stance is in harmony with the broader position of the European Union (EU), which strongly advocates for resolving territorial disputes through peaceful means and adherence to international law, notably under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Whether this support from Germany can translate to shared intelligence or joint maritime patrols with the Philippines remains to be seen.

Marcos’s reaffirmation of the Philippines’ commitment to its territorial integrity in the WPS is a strategic move to garner and strengthen international support amidst ongoing regional tensions. The backing of Germany for the Philippines also represents the international community’s growing concern over maritime security and sovereignty issues within the region.


Divergences on the ICC and human rights

A sticking point during the visit of Marcos was the ICC probe into the country’s war on drugs under the previous Philippine Administration. Although Marcos’s approach to the Philippines’ drug problem has been different from his predecessor’s, Marcos’s continued position on the ICC probe is that the body does not have jurisdiction over the country. This underscores a significant divergence in the perspectives on human rights and international justice mechanisms, especially stark, with Germany being one of the ICC’s staunchest supporters.

Marcos’s position on the ICC’s jurisdiction reflects his Administration’s broader resistance to international oversight in domestic affairs, contending that the Philippine judiciary is fully capable of addressing these issues. However, this overlooks the international community’s escalating concerns over human rights violations and the need for accountability, particularly when local mechanisms are perceived as inadequate. Additionally, the Marcos Administration may need to approach human rights issues with greater delicacy, reflecting on the past experiences of the previous Administration, wherein the European Parliament called on the Philippines to address human rights violations, with the warning of potential losses under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), which offers market access and trade benefits.


Global challenges and the Philippines’ role

Discussions between Marcos and Scholz also ventured into global challenges, such as the war in Ukraine and climate change. Scholz’s call for continued support for Ukraine, echoed by Marcos, reflects a mutual recognition of the conflict’s extensive ramifications. Additionally, the Philippines’ bid to host the Loss and Damage Fund and talks on climate change cooperation, highlight the country’s proactive stance on global environmental concerns.

Marcos’s visit to Germany symbolizes the complex dynamics of today’s international relations, where economic partnerships, security cooperation, and a common goal of addressing global challenges, coexist with divergent views on issues like human rights and justice. This visit reinforces the Philippines’ strategic partnerships with key global players like Germany, but also illustrates the nuanced balancing act that nations must navigate against the complex backdrop of international diplomacy. As the Philippines seeks to enhance its international standing and pursue sustainable growth, such engagements become critical platforms for advancing national interests and contributing to broader discussions on security, prosperity, and peace.


Asset Publisher


Tonette de Jesus

Tonette de Jesus

Senior Program Manager +63 2 8539 3845


Asset Publisher

Asset Publisher