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28 March 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

In Photo: Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano lead the delegation of local business leaders that met with their Australian counterparts during a meeting on March 16 in Barangaroo, Sydney, Australia.

THE Australia-Philippines Business Council (APBC) welcomed the Philippine delegation to Australia, led by Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, through a welcome reception participated in by Australian and Philippine business leaders on March 16 in Barangaroo, Sydney, Australia.

Lopez and Cayetano witnessed the signing of letters of intent to invest in the Philippines from different private-sector leaders and firms planning to maximize the Philippines’s growing economy. Investment includes setting up of an assembly plant for GPS tracking devices, development of a $10-million biomass power plant and construction of a $30-million hotel and residential place in Cebu.

Australia’s Macquarie Bank Chairman Peter Warne, Chairman of TMIP Holdings David King, ANZ Philippines CEO Anna Green and Austal CEO David Singleton were among the Australian business executives present. Philippine business leaders like Jose Concepcion III and SM Investment’s Teresita Sy-Coson were among the Filipino executives in attendance.

In his address to the business community, Lopez highlighted the government’s support programs for micro, small and medium enterprises and its initiatives that ensure the growth, development and competitiveness of these enterprises. He shared the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Negosyo Centers, Pondo Para sa Pagbabago, Shared Service Facility, market-access initiatives that provide permanent space for MSME products, and online digital-space programs, summed up in the DTI’s 7M strategy on MSMEs.

Lopez said increasing the trade base between Australia and the Philippines should be based on the complementarity of industries and sectors where growth will be highly recorded. Some examples he gave were on agri-based commodities, shipbuilding, construction (Build, Build, Build), and Information-Technology and business-process management services.

In his closing remarks, Lopez shared the Philippines’s economic breakout, supported by growth in GDP, manufacturing and consumer confidence, among others. He also emphasized the enhancement of domestic policies, with new regulations adopted to ensure competitiveness of businesses and industries.

Lopez cited the recently issued tax law (TRAIN), where individuals are expected to have bigger take-home pay. With its implementation, it is expected to build a wider consumer base with higher buying capacity leading to greater opportunities for businesses. Lopez reiterated the Philippines is open for business, with the DTI’s core task of bringing more job-generating opportunities for all Filipinos.

During the event, APBC President Ed Alcordo expressed APBC’s gratitude for the Philippine government’s commitment in strengthening bilateral ties between Australia and the Philippines, where foreign and economic relations have grown through 70 years of friendship, with a comprehensive partnership agreement signed in 2015.

At the end of the welcome reception, a meeting attended by Lopez, Cayetano and Singleton was held. Singleton shared Austal’s shipyard operations in Cebu and its plan to expand its operations in the Philippines. Austal makes fast, lightweight aluminum boats for civilian and military use. They are the sole foreign company supplying Aluminum-hulled ships to the United States Navy.

Singleton said they make ships in the Philippines for export to customers in Germany, Australia and many other overseas clients who require high quality shipbuilding.

The business reception was organized by the APBC and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Sydney.

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