Australia sees greater economic ties with PH

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 February) – The Australian government has remained optimistic on the Philippines and will explore new areas of cooperation as the country moves to expand its economic potentials.

“Both the Philippines’ and Australia’s economic growth performance looks set to continue, this creates new, mutually beneficial opportunities for trade, investment and business between the Philippines and Australia,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely told business leaders on Monday at the Marco Polo Hotel.

She said Australia can support the Philippines to ensure the benefits of the “ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement are fully seized, that the private sector in our respective countries do explore new business opportunities- which is what today is about; and that business regulations, competitiveness and productivity continue to be improved,” she said.

Elodie Journet, Australian senior trade commissioner in Manila, said the Philippines has maintained a “strong economic worth and sustained socioeconomic agenda” that opens up more opportunities for the country to grow.

“We feel that Australia can be a partner for that expansion as well. There’s a lot of synergies between our two economies and therefore we feel that there are many areas of opportunities for us to collaborate and be part of the Philippine’s development program,” she said.

She said that one area in which Australia supports the Philippines is capacity-building for government officials and key departments.

She said the AU$80-million in official development assistance goes mostly to capacity-building of its beneficiaries in the country to “ensure that there is appropriate skill set” to give the “most benefits to the community and to country” out of the various projects.

Gorely said the relationship between the two countries have grown and encompassed an increasing people-to-people link; development assistance towards sustainable growth; trade and investment to expand economic ties; defense; and law enforcement cooperation.

“Australia and Philippines have a long history of bilateral cooperation. Both countries have much in common, being geographically proximate and sharing perspectives on many regional, economic, and security issues,” she said.

She added trade, investment, cultural exchange, education, tourism, and migration are encouraged to grow people-to-people links.

She estimated around 250,000 Filipino migrants live in Australia and 10,000 Filipinos go there to study annually.

“They continue to make positive contributions to Australian society,” she said.

The ambassador also vowed to continue support for Mindanao, this being one of the priorities of Australia’s development program in the Philippines.

“We continue to support programs in education, livelihood, peace, and stability,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)