PH, Australia seek economic cooperation

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Philippines and Australia recently convened the second Trade, Investment and Industry Dialogue (PATIID) to discuss how to address the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a statement on Wednesday, DTI said the event also marked the reactivation of the economic bilateral cooperation mechanism after a six-year hiatus.

The meeting led by Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and Australia’s Foreign and Trade Deputy Secretary Christopher Langman served as an opportunity for both sides to discuss the impacts of the Covid-19 to bilateral trade and investments and to update on policy reforms and projects adopted by each government for pandemic response and business environment competitiveness.

During the meeting, the Philippines also reiterated its interest for the grant of market access by Australia for fresh Cavendish bananas as top priority, with durian and dragon fruit also subsequently lined up for consideration.

It also requested the termination of the anti-dumping measure on Philippine canned pineapples and expressed hope on the possible expansion of Filipino food, fashion, and homestyle retailing offerings in Australian mainstream supermarket and retail stores.

DTI said that Australia, for its part, vowed to closely work with the Philippine government and its exporters on addressing the requests.

Both countries recognized Australia’s significant contribution to the Philippines’ total investments with more than 300 Australian companies employing about 44,000 Filipinos engaged in various activities such as mining, shipbuilding, energy supply, retail trade, accommodation and food service facilities, manufacturing, transportation and storage.

For the information technology-business process management sector alone, at least 200 Australian companies are present in the Philippines.

Australia, meanwhile, acknowledged the fast growth of investments coming from the Philippines.

Filipino companies that have successfully established a foothold in the Australian market include Victoria Container International Terminal, Monde Nissin, Ramcar Holdings Inc., San Miguel Corp. and Century Pacific Food, Inc., among others.

To facilitate the increase of foreign investments, both countries updated each other of policy reforms for the improvement of the business environment.

The Philippines provided an overview of its Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (Create) Act and Australia of the changes in its foreign investment review framework.

Australia highlighted its focus on building stronger and wider markets through investments and cooperation initiatives with its trading partners.

Australia proposed to collaborate with the DTI, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Anti-Red Tape Authority.

DTI said that the highlight of the meeting was the promotion of opportunities to deepen trade and investment relationship in areas such as personal protective equipment, vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing, copper industry, electric vehicles, agriculture, defense, shipbuilding, renewable energy, education, and development programs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.