Australia sees big potential in PHL agri, clean energy


THE Philippines has a lot of potential in the areas of agriculture and clean energy, according to a representative of the Australian government in the Philippines.

“As you know, there’s a lot of potential to do more agriculture and resources. And this government and Australia is very focused on the green energy transition,” Australian Embassy Deputy Head of the Mission for the Philippines Moya Collett said at a media briefing in Makati City on Tuesday.

Collett added, “So you would hope to see a lot of investment in that area as well.”

According to the Australian Embassy, a summary of the report set to be launched on September 6, with the title “Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040,” outlines a “practical pathway” to significantly increase the two-way trade and investment between Australia and Southeast Asia.

“Southeast Asia is a major opportunity for Australian business. Southeast Asia and Australia share bright economic growth prospects, geographical proximity, economic complementary, and a need for trade diversification,” the summary released by the Australian Embassy read.

The Embassy emphasized that Southeast Asia’s favorable demographic, industrialization and urbanization trends and technological advances will “increasingly” make it an economic powerhouse to 2040 and beyond.

Collett said the report is focused on the opportunities, “so we really see that the current administration has actually done a lot.”

The Embassy official recognized the Philippine government’s efforts, saying, “There’s been a lot of processes underway at the moment to open up the Philippines for greater foreign investment for example, and to improve the ease of doing business and to improve competition.”

These efforts, Collett said, are seen by Australian investors as “really positive steps.”

“So I think this government in the Philippines is absolutely on the right track in terms of integrating the Philippines with the rest of the region and opening up to Australia. So we want to take advantage of those opportunities,” she also noted.

The report summary said there is much more Australia and Southeast Asia can, and should, be doing to boost this important economic relationship.

Nicholas Moore, the Special Envoy for Southeast Asia, who developed the report, has met with over 750 individuals in Southeast Asia and Australia across governments, business and civil society and received around 200 submissions through a public consultation process, and visited all Asean countries except Myanmar.

According to the summary, the strategy enclosed in the report examines 10 priority sectors: Agriculture and food, Resources, Green energy transition, Infrastructure, Education and skills, Visitor economy, Healthcare, Digital economy, Professional and financial services, and creative industries.

A key recommendation is to remove blockages in trade. The summary noted the need to “continue exploring opportunities to reduce regulatory burden under the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), as the foreign investment framework regime allows, and seek reciprocal action in the region.”

It cited the imperative for “Australia’s Trade 2040 Taskforce, in collaboration with Southeast Asian partners, to review the scope of existing [free trade agreements] FTAs to determine priorities for agreement upgrade negotiations.”