'A new level': Australia boosts ties with Philippines

The prime minister has vowed to take Australia's relationship with the Philippines to the next level, after the two nations signed up to closer defence and security ties.

Anthony Albanese held one-on-one talks with Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr in Manila on Friday, the first bilateral visit by a sitting prime minister to the country in 20 years.

The two nations upgraded ties with both leaders signing off on a new strategic partnership.

Under the agreement, both countries will step up joint naval patrols in the South China Sea, following escalating tensions over disputed territories claimed by China.

Peace and stability within the nearby Taiwan Strait was also highlighted in the partnership statement.

Australians looking to travel to the Philippines will be able to obtain a new working holiday visa, allowing them to stay in the country for up to a year.

Filipinos can also come to Australia for 12 months under the visa.

The nations will collaborate to help develop healthier soils for agricultural production in the Philippines, a project to be backed by more than $4 million in Australian funding.

Mr Albanese said there was still room to improve relations even further.

"There is real scope for us to grow trade between our two countries," he told reporters in Manila.

"It was a very successful visit with some practical outcomes, taking the relationship between Australia and the Philippines up to a new level."

The new agreement will also see annual meetings between defence ministers.

During bilateral talks, the leaders discussed strengthening regional and national security along with trade and economic relations.

Mr Marcos said while it had been several decades since the last formal talks with an Australian leader in the nation, the relationship was strengthening.

"The Australian shift, maybe a decade or two ago, saying Australia's future is with Asia, has become a reality," he said.

"That's why the closeness between our countries ... is terribly important."

The Philippine president said both nations were committed to regional security.

"I'm confident these partnerships will drive innovation, create opportunities and foster a deeper understanding between our countries," he said.

Mr Albanese said ties would also be strengthened within Australia, with a new Philippine Institute to be set up at the Australian National University in Canberra.

"Australia is ambitious for what we can achieve with the Philippines and with the region," he said.

The prime minister's latest visit follows several ministerial trips to the Asian country to shore up defence ties, including by Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles last month when he observed joint military exercises.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Albanese laid a wreath at the Jose Rizal Monument, which commemorates the executed Filipino nationalist advocate.

The prime minister was then given a ceremonial welcome at the presidential palace with a military band and Waltzing Matilda played on multiple marimbas, before he inspected the troops.

The visit is part of a growing focus on Southeast Asia by the government amid escalating regional tensions in the Indo-Pacific and Chinese aggression.

Relations have been bolstered in recent months with neighbouring nations including Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.

Mr Albanese will next travel to India to meet with world leaders at the G20 Summit in New Delhi.

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