In photo: DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba during her presentation at the CEO Business Forum.

(Sydney, Australia) – CEO’s of some of the biggest Australian companies were impressed with the Philippines’ new industrial policy on innovation and its vision to be an AI Center of Excellence.

I am impressed with what the Philippines is doing. It is an ambitious undertaking but clearly the country’s strength lies in its people and it would be even more attractive if the skills of the workforce will be upgraded as the country moves forward to industry 4.0 and the new digital era,” said Mr. Paul Watson, managing director of Southern Infrastructure Pty Ltd, a consortium of construction, building, and specialist civil engineering companies in Australia.

The opportunities are also massive and we are particularly interested in infrastructure projects in the Philippines through the BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) scheme,” Watson added.

Meanwhile, Macquarie Group Chair Peter Warne reaffirmed his commitment to invest more in the Philippines and remarked that he is impressed with the enthusiasm and quality of the workers in the Philippines.

Macquarie Group Limited operates an offshore shared services center in Manila with over 900 workers. The Sydney-based investment bank and financial services company, through Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) in partnership with Arran Investment, an affiliate of Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC acquired shareholdings in the Philippines’ largest producer of geothermal energy, Energy Development Corporation, expanding Macquarie’s renewable energy investments.

This was one of the highlights of the discussion during an exclusive gathering of business leaders hosted by the Australia Philippines Business Council (APBC) and the Philippine Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) in partnership with Ernst & Young (EY), which was held on 12 June 2019 at the EY office in Sydney.

The roundtable and business forum discussed key opportunities that have or will come into view for Australian businesses in the Philippines, as well as insights into one of the most dynamic economies in the Asia Pacific with the World Bank reporting 6.2 percent growth in 2018.

APBC president Mr. Eduard Alcordo noted the country’s economic performance as one of the best in Asia and shared some of the companies that are already doing business between the two countries such as Macquarie Group, Telstra, Austal, QBE, Acquire BPO in the Philippines and San Miguel Packaging, RamCar, and ICTSI, among others in Australia.

Meanwhile, DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba underscored in her keynote address that things have changed in the Philippines making the country the brightest spot in Asia and shared the Philippines’ new industrial policy on innovation.

Our new inclusive innovation industrial policy or I3s aims to bring innovation at the front and center of our policies – to upgrade and develop new industries, upskill our workforce, remove obstacles to growth to attract more investments and create jobs, strengthen domestic supply chains, participate in global value chains and link manufacturing with agriculture and services,” Aldaba explained.

“This opens up new opportunities for advanced products and technologies and innovation focused on sectors such as electronics, automotive, aerospace, chemicals, IT-BPM and agribusiness.” Aldaba noted.

There are also new areas for investments such as the estimated US$378 M Philippine startup ecosystem with opportunities in fintech, enterprise solutions, AI and machine learning. If you look at the metrics, our Philippine startup ecosystem is still young but full of potential and embedded capabilities. Our vision is to make the Philippines as an AI Center of Excellence in the region focused on data science, analytics, chip design and software development,” Aldaba said.

Aldaba added that the Philippines is fertile ground for investments in infrastructure with big ticket projects such as airports, railways, bridges and roads, building of better and smarter cities and other construction-related projects lined up until 2022. There are also opportunities in both renewable and conventional energy as the country requires an additional 43,765 MW capacity by 2040. Moreover, there is a demand for copper wire rods for the semi-conductor, electronics and automotive industries.

Aldaba concluded that there are still more scope for collaboration on the trade and investment relations between the Philippines and Australia. In 2018, Australia ranked as the Philippines’ 18th major trading partner, 19th export market and 17th import supplier with total bilateral trade of over US$ 2.1 billion. There are over 300 Australian companies in PH engaged in manufacturing, real estate, energy, IT-BPM and others.

Meanwhile, First Pacific Capital Underwriters Pty Limited (FPCU), a boutique investment bank in Australia, and Acudeen Technologies Incorporated, a financial technology startup company and owner of an online block chain enabled invoice factoring platform, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to invest in the Australian Factoring Sector. Under the MOU, the parties intend to capture 0.32% of the market share in Australia equivalent to US$240 M within 12 months of full operation.

The MOU was signed by Mr. Eduard Alcordo, director of FPCU, and Mr. Mario Jordan Fetalino III, CEO of Acudeen Technologies. The signing was witnessed by Philippine Consul General Maria Teresa Taguiang and DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba together with APBC executives.♦

Date of Release: 12 June 2019