Austrian ambassador set to meet Duterte late Friday night

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 June) – Ambassador Josef Muellner is expected to meet President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte here either late Friday night to discuss with him about strengthening economic cooperation between Austria and the Philippines.

In an interview at the opening of the Austrian Honorary Consulate at the Shoppes along Diversion Road here Friday, Muellner told MindaNews that he is expecting a call from the Duterte camp in a few hours confirming his schedule and the venue for his meeting with the president-elect.

Duterte went to Manila Wednesday to meet his cabinet secretaries.

Muellner said that he would convey his country’s congratulations to the incoming president and hope to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries.

The diplomat is expecting changes in governance under a Duterte administration, most especially that the latter spoke of pushing for federalization and opening up the economy to foreign investors.

He said that Austrian investors poured in over 250 million euros last year.

Automotive firm KTM Motorcycle in partnership with Ayala Corp. is expected to open production facility in the country within the year, Muellner said.

Honorary Consul Dr. Peter Faistauer told MindaNews that Austria can also cooperate with the Philippines in terms of infrastructure development, a field where his country is known for.

Faistauer believes in the security and no-corruption promise of Duterte that will spur foreign investments.

“So I think with the approach now for the whole Philippines to have increased security, less criminality, less corruption, the Philippines also becomes much more appealing for investment,” he said.

On security, Faistauer said that “if you don’t have the security in one hand, people cannot come because they cannot send people here to build up companies because the people would not go.”

He said that the United States’ warning against travel to Mindanao has made foreigners reluctant about exploring the island.

Faistauer added that a corruption-free environment, which is at the core of Duterte’s campaign promise, is necessary to encourage more investors in coming over to the country.

“You need a corruption-free environment because if you don’t have this, it’s unpredictable to plan your investment.… Because of course, when you make projection for your planning, and you have high corruption, it is unpredictable how much the thing will cost you and if your operations will even take off, which Duterte and his team are focusing on,” he said.

Faistauer said that the Mindawon president-elect will help improve the image of the island for the investors.

“I think there are a lot of ways how to cooperate because Mindanao is not very well-known in the world. Since the president-elect is the mayor of Davao, the whole thing changes. People will start to know what is Davao and what is Mindanao,” he said.