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Phl expresses bullish prospects in trade and investment ASEAN-Australia Summit

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By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

The Philippines is elated with the recently concluded ASEAN-Australia Trade and Investment Summit held from March 4-6 in Melbourne, Australia as part of the two-day state visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

According to Department of Trade and Industry-Bureau of International Trade Relations, the Philippines was able to secure 12 business agreements amounting to USD 1.53 billion (or PHP 86 billion) worth of investments.

These investments cover diverse sectors such as renewable energy, waste-to-energy technology, organic recycling technology, countryside housing initiatives, the establishment of data centers, manufacturing of health technology solutions, and digital health services, among others.

Through the Australia-Philippine Business Council (APBC), the Philippine Australia Business Council (PABC), and the Australia-New Zealand Business Chamber (ANZCHAM), the event showcased the realization of previous discussions and investment promotion efforts during the business roundtable held on the sidelines Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) last year.

The launch of the Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) expansion further underscored the growing presence of Philippine companies in Australia.

VICT, a subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) based in Manila, has established itself as a major player in Melbourne’s port operations since it started its operations in 2017. This expansion firmly positions VICT as the sole fully automated container terminal in the southern hemisphere.

Meanwhile, Secretary Fred Pascual and Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farell solidified their commitment to strengthen the economic relationship between the Philippines and Australia during their engagement at the Lowy Institute. Both parties acknowledged the significance of elevated bilateral strategic partnership and regional mechanisms, such as the Second Protocol to Amend the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

In line with the government’s goal of establishing the Philippines as a regional hub for smart and sustainable manufacturing and services, President Marcos Jr., Secretary Pascual, and other Cabinet Secretaries met with representatives from Macquarie Group on 05 March.

Macquarie Group, Australia’s leading financial services company, reaffirmed its intent to expand its current renewable energy and digitalization investments in the Philippines. Additionally, the discussions noted the Board of Investments’ (BOI) approval of a green lane certificate for 1.3 gigawatt floating solar project in Laguna Lake funded by Macquarie.

“We welcome the growing interest of Australian businesses to pursue investment opportunities in the Philippines, particularly in renewable energy, cybersecurity, digital health services, agriculture, data center, battery manufacturing, recycling, and education,” Secretary Fred Pascual said.

Australia remains the Philippines’ 14th largest trading partner. Australia’s foreign direct investment (FDI) reaches US$7.01 million in 2022. Key priority sectors for Australian investment include agribusiness (agriculture and food security), industrial, manufacturing, and transport (semi-conductor, automotive, and aerospace), technology, media, and telecommunications (business process outsourcing and data centers).

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