In photos (L-R): Mr. Paulo Garcia, Member of the New Zealand Parliament; H.E. Kira Christianne D. Azucena, Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand, DTI Undersecretary Allan Gepty; PTIC Special Trade Representative Alma Argayoso

Auckland, New Zealand—The successful visit of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to the Philippines last April paved the way for enhanced diplomatic relations and stronger economic cooperation as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) championed investment opportunities at the Make it Happen in the Philippines: A Business Forum and Networking Night in Auckland on May 27.

The DTI’s trade promotion office in Australia, the Philippine Trade and Investment Center Sydney (PTIC-Sydney), partnered with the Philippine Embassy in Wellington to support this business mission, fostering a deeper trade and investment relations between New Zealand and the Philippines. Kiwi companies were invited to invest in the Philippines in innovation and technology industries, among others.

In the forum, DTI Undersecretary Allan Gepty affirmed the Philippines’ position as an ideal hub for innovation and the country’s commitment to fostering an environment that encourages innovation and scientific discovery.

DTI Undersecretary Allan Gepty delivering his keynote message during the forum.

“Our vibrant tech industry, burgeoning start-up scene, and world-class research institutions are testament to this,” Undersecretary Gepty said.

Furthermore, Gepty highlighted the Philippines’ resilient economy, which in 2023 posted a better-than-expected GDP growth rate of 5.6%, strong growth projections by multilateral organizations, and robust macroeconomic fundamentals.

“This strong economic performance and projections mean that there are a lot of economic activities going on in the country. With our strong partnership and existing economic platforms such as AANZFTA, RCEP, and IPEF, I can say that there are still a lot of opportunities that have not been explored,” Undersecretary Gepty added.

He shared that during the visit of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in Manila, President Marcos welcomed NZ’s commitment to step up and deepen engagement in the Southeast Asian region. Both countries also discussed working together in the areas of agricultural technology and innovation, agribusiness, renewable energy, education and skills, digital infrastructure, including maximizing the Philippines’ expertise in information technology and business process management (IT-BPM).

Meanwhile, representatives from investment promotion agencies such as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) discussed investment opportunities for Kiwi companies in the country’s world-class and environment-friendly economic and freeport zones.

Maria Veronica Magsino, PEZA’s Deputy Director General for Finance and Administration, shared PEZA’s new frontiers in ecozone development such as aerotropolis parks, agro-forestry parks, biotech centers, fintech hubs, Knowledge, Innovation, Science and Technology (KIST) parks, and start-up ecozones, among others.

“With PEZA’s one-stop and non-stop shop, foreign investors are assured of 24/7 continuous assistance, adherence to the Anti-Red Tape mandate, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification, protection of the environment and rights of Filipino workers,” Magsino said.

PEZA’s brand of service had been recognized by international agencies such as the United States (US) Trade Administration, US Department of State, Bloomberg, and ASEAN-UNCTAD, and other reputable organizations.

Karen Magno, Department Manager of the Business and Investment Department for Manufacturing and Maritime of SBMA, on the other hand, highlighted strategic investment and business partnership opportunities in the Subic Bay Freeport in the areas of manufacturing and maritime, leisure and tourism, renewable energy, information and communications technology (ICT), general business and transportation. Magno underscored that investors will benefit from Subic’s accessibility, dependable infrastructure and complete port facilities.

The second half of the program consisted of a panel discussion featuring Deployed, an IT-business process outsourcing company in the Philippines represented by its Managing Director Geoff Baldwin, and offshoring company KMC Solutions represented by its Manager for ANZ Ivan Trajkovski, as well as the ecozone representatives.

The event was jointly organized by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and supported by the ASEAN New Zealand Business Council (ANZBC) and the New Zealand Philippines Business Council (NZPBC) in partnership with the Philippine Embassy in Wellington and the Philippines’ DTI to foster a deeper trade and investment relations between New Zealand and the Philippines. ♦

Date of release: 07 June 2024