THE Australia-Philippines Business Council (APBC) welcomed the Philippine delegation to Australia led by Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano through a welcome reception participated in by Australian and Philippine business leaders on 16 March 2018 in Barangaroo, Sydney, Australia.
Secretary Cayetano and Secretary Lopez witnessed the signing of Letters of Intent (LOIs) to invest in the Philippines from different private sector leaders/firms planning to maximize the Philippines’ growing economy. Investment includes setting up of an assembly plant for GPS tracking devices, development of a US$10 million biomass power plant, and construction of a US$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, AUSTAL CEO David Singleton were among the Australian business executives present. Philippine business leaders like Mr. Jose Concepcion III and SM Investment’s Ms. Teresita Sy-Coson were among the Filipino executives in attendance.
In his address to the business community, Secretary Lopez highlighted government’s support programs for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and its initiatives that ensure the growth, development, and competitiveness of these enterprises. He shared DTI’s Negosyo Centers, Pondo Para sa Pagbabago (P3), Shared Service Facility (SSF), market access initiatives that provide permanent space for MSME products, and online digital space programs, which are summed up in the DTI’s 7M strategy on MSMEs.
Secretary Lopez shared that increasing the trade base between Australia and the Philippines should be based on complementarity of industries and sectors where growth will be highly recorded. Some examples he gave were on agri-based commodities, ship-building, construction (Build, Build, Build), and IT and Business Process Management Services (IT-BPM).
In his closing remarks, Secretary Lopez shared the Philippines’ economic breakout, supported by growth in GDP, manufacturing, consumer confidence, among others. He also emphasized the enhancement of domestic policies, with new regulations adopted to ensure competitiveness of businesses and industries.
Secretary Lopez also 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. Secretary Lopez reiterated that the Philippines is open for business, with 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 Secretary Lopez, DFA Secretary Cayetano and AUSTAL CEO David Singleton was held. Mr. 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. Mr. Singleton shared that 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 Australia Philippines Business Council (APBC) and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Sydney.♦
|Participants during the welcome reception hosted by APBC on 16 March 2018.|
|DFA Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano (standing, 5th from left) with DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez (standing, 4th from right) witnessing the signing of Letter of Intent (LOI) of the technology company Fleet Logic declaring the company’s plan to assemble Global Positioning System (GPS) Devices in the Philippines for export.|
Date of release: 21 March 2018
Sydney – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez shared how the Philippines (PH) is preparing for the “future of work” during the CEO Forum held at the sidelines of ASEAN-Australia Special Summit last 17 March.
The CEO Forum gathered ASEAN and Australian business leaders to discuss six main topics vital to deepening economic integration. The topics, discussed in separate CEO Forum Roundtables, were (1) tourism destination development and aviation; (2) digital transformation in services; (3) advanced manufacturing and industry 4.0; (4) agri-food supply chain logistics; (5) future energy supply chains; and (6) infrastructure.
“The Philippines is developing inclusive innovation hubs to prepare our workforce, and allow them to adapt to technological advancements,” said the Trade Secretary.
The Department’s Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S), that tightens the synergy between the industry and academe, would require a future-ready workforce. Government policies and projects on education, internship, training must be aligned and pushed. Industry links with the academe should accelerate their R and D innovation efforts while academe’s interaction with the industry will ensure that their research works will be relevant and market driven.
According to Lopez, PH education system now is encouraged to create a value system that promotes creativity and innovation. Likewise, students are now taught to understand the how-to's and the why's.
The goal of these initiatives is to prepare the Filipino workforce for future jobs that include artificial intelligence (AI). “We need to create an AI workforce that is more inclusive and will give a chance to much more Filipinos to be employed,” Lopez said. Advancing these skills will also provide job security for current roles that are endangered by technology.
Meanwhile, Sec. Lopez cited President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's call for inclusive globalization, developing a symbiotic relation between big countries and small countries. This aims to encourage major economies to help developing countries, providing enabling programs that will build capacities in the developing nations and then ensuring as well that they open more market access for their products and services. This will certainly lead to a more shared prosperity in a globalizing world.
The event was opened by Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison MP who emphasized the importance of establishing greater linkages between both regions. Economic ministers were asked questions on trade, tourism, employment, and other cooperation initiatives between ASEAN and Australia.♦
Date of release: 21 March 2018
|Secretary Ramon M. Lopez (right) with New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian during their meeting on 7 December 2017.|
MAKATI – The government of New South Wales (NSW) expressed its confidence in the Philippine (PH) economy and wants to explore strengthened trade and investment cooperation ties between PH and NSW.
In a meeting with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez on 7 December 2017, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian conveyed their government’s intention to enhance their relationship with PH.
A state located on the east coast of Australia, NSW imports telecommunication equipment and parts, passenger motor vehicles, medicaments, refined petroleum, and computers.
“We welcome Australian investors and businesses that will help us uplift the lives of those at bottom of the pyramid and enable the Philippines to contribute in the global value chain. New South Wales has expressed strong confidence in our economy and the business environment stability under the Duterte Administration and wish to partner with us,” said Sec. Lopez.
The trade chief highlighted the growing manufacturing sector and encouraged NSW to partner with PH in research and development. The trade chief also shared the PH government’s initiatives in streamlining and automating services to improve doing business in the country.
“We will continue to work on opening areas of investment and increase employment and business opportunities for all Filipinos,” Sec. Lopez added.
Meanwhile, Premier Berejiklian shared that many Australian businesses, especially in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, are attracted to PH’s encouraging economic state and enormous potential. Apart from the impressive 6.9% GDP growth, the NSW premier highlighted the good traits of Filipino workforce and the work culture they have.
With infrastructure-related construction as one of the priority areas for expansion of NSW, Premier Berejiklian also opened the discussion on a possible partnership through the sharing of expertise and technological know-how in the industry.♦
Tomas Alcantara, chair of ABAC Philippines, noted how APEC plays a critical role towards achieving the shared goal of inclusivity which will directly impact the domestic economy. “APEC represents an important region because it accounts for 64% of the Philippines’ foreign direct investments, 84% of its exports, and 63% of the Overseas Filipino population.”
Prospects for Asia-Pacific indicate that the region remains abound with opportunities. According to IMF experts, Asia-Pacific GDP would expand by 5.4% this year, far outstripping the rate of advanced economies at 2%. Forecast for the Philippines is even brighter with the agency predicting a 6.7% growth for 2018. The recent conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by 11 APEC economies, seen as one of the key pathways to an integrated Asia-Pacific economy, is welcomed as a positive step to regional inclusivity."
Therefore, the Philippines should continue to engage the APEC community with the following strategies: (1) push for greater connectivity, (2) promote further liberalization of trade, (3) adapt to industrialization, and (4) achieve a people-centered development,” explained Mr. Alcantara. He stated that MSME development, the services agenda, and infrastructure finance are among the policy areas where the Philippines is most active.
ABAC PH member Joanne de Asis emphasized in Auckland how infrastructure provides the backbone of an inclusive economy, and that adequate financing is the lifeblood of infrastructure development in the region. “Infrastructure projects are the concrete and tangible outcomes of APEC’s and ABAC’s role in promoting prosperity in the region,” Ms. De Asis said. “Infrastructure finance, particularly an opportunity opening up in a pool of Islamic infrastructure financing, represents an alternative, new channel for funding projects under the government’s Build, Build, Build program. We look forward to playing an active role in this new area of work within ABAC,” she added.
Another big focus of ABAC this year is digital economy. In line with this, the private sector body of APEC has created a new working group that would address digital and innovation issues.
For ABAC Philippines’ Guillermo Luz, digital innovation as a new policy topic within ABAC is particularly relevant for the Philippines, which has a strong service-oriented economy. “We will look at the opportunities and adjustments to the economy that were brought about by technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning, among others. It is estimated that as much as 80% of existing jobs today may be changed significantly or outright eliminated in the next 40-50 years and replaced by even larger number of new jobs. The implications on today’s educational system and curriculum will be massive,” Mr. Luz said.
ABAC 2018 chair David Toua of Papua New Guinea (PNG) explained what this focus on digital innovation means for Asia-Pacific. “The digital economy provides a springboard for small business, women and other disadvantaged groups to take part in trade and connect around the region.” PNG is the chair for 2018 of APEC and ABAC meetings and will host the APEC Summit later this year.
He noted, however, that the full potential of a “Digital Asia-Pacific” could not be realized without investing to counter the digital divide that risks leaving the most vulnerable groups behind. “In all economies, we also need to nurture a future-ready workforce. That means putting in place the right settings for digital infrastructure, skills and education, and region-wide digital business-friendly regulation,” Mr. Toua added.
Explaining the thrust of PNG’s chairmanship for 2018, Mr. Toua said, “Growth is clearly an essential but not a sufficient condition for secure and prosperous communities.” He further stated, “We need to look closely at our economies’ policies to ensure that people can actually take advantage of the opportunities that growth brings. Harnessing inclusive opportunities is a key mantra for this year.”
With this year’s theme, “Digitization and Innovation –Advancing Social Harmony,” other specific priorities discussed in the ABAC meeting include improving connectivity; structural reform especially in the services sector; reducing trade and investment barriers; creating opportunities for MSMEs; strengthening financial systems; and grappling with issues around sustainable growth such as food and energy security.♦
PASAY CITY—As part of the government’s objective to strengthen its economic relations with external partners, the Philippines (PH) recently (10 September 2017) discussed with Australia (AU) and New Zealand (NZ) bilateral trade issues to bring the Philippine relations with these two countries into a more strategic direction.
At the sidelines of the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, who also serves as the 2017 AEM chairperson, convened separate bilateral meetings with Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Steven Ciobo, as well as with New Zealand Member of Parliament Chester Borrows.
|PH Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez convened a bilateral meeting with Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Steven Ciobo at the sidelines of the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings.|
Sec. Lopez and Minister Ciobo discussed bilateral trade issues to enable PH to increase its exports to AU. In particular, Sec. Lopez raised the anti-dumping duty imposed on PH canned pineapples and resealable can end closures, as well as inquired as to AU’s processes to facilitate the entry of PH bananas to AU. Minister Ciobo reassured the DTI head of AU’s full cooperation with regard to the anti-dumping issues. He also expounded on AU’s quarantine procedures.
The Australian Minister highlighted that Australian businesses are looking into investing in PH, given the improved business environment in the country. However,
Minister Ciobo also raised the issue on the 60-40 foreign equity participation, to which Sec. Lopez remarked, “The government is trying to revise and repeal the relevant laws to enable increased investments to the country”.
PH also expressed its appreciation for all the assistance extended, in particular, those provided by the AU-led Aid for Trade initiative, as well as the scholarships granted to Filipino students through the Australia Awards.
Noting that AU is PH’s 16th major trading partner in 2016, with total trade valued at USD 1.38 billion, the DTI chief underscored that PH is open to doing more business missions ,which will provide an avenue for business in PH and AU to cite opportunities, as well as increase trade between both countries.
Meanwhile, Sec. Lopez also met with NZ Member of Parliament Chester Borrows same day.
The trade chief and the parliamentarian discussed how PH can look to NZ as an example for initiatives to improve the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) in PH, noting that NZ ranks 1st for EODB.
|PH Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez (3rd from L) and other PH trade officials convened a bilateral meeting with New Zealand’s Member of Parliament Chester Borrows (3rd from R) and other New Zealand officials at the sidelines of the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings.|
PH also shared that various government agencies, in particular the DTI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bureau of Internal Revenue have already streamlined procedures to facilitate businesses, and that other relevant government agencies are in the processes of improving their current systems.
“Key effort now is further streamlining and integration of the information system of the various agencies to cut the entire registration process into less than one hour once automated,” highlighted Sec. Lopez, adding the proposal to conduct more workshops/process studies with regard to EODB with NZ’s support.♦