The Australia Philippines Business Council has expanded its national footprint with the recent launch of APBC Western Australia.
In a sign of the times, a hybrid event combining a live, in-person function in Perth with a simultaneous online component was held 26 August to mark the occasion. Virtual attendees included those from other states as well as the Philippines.
The launch drew an impressive line-up of speakers including the Hon Peter Tinley, WA Minister for Housing, Fisheries, Veterans Issues and Asian Engagement, Philippine Ambassador to Australia Ma. Hellen De La Vega and Philippine Assistant Secretary of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Romeo Montenegro. Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J Robinson joined the event online from Manila while newly appointed Honorary Consul to WA Atty Virma Symons attended in person.
Already WA’s largest export market for wheat, Minister Peter Tinley said the Philippines presents a unique opportunity for WA beyond transactional export and trade to a next level partnership in global supply chains. He underscored WA’s passion for Asian engagement and urged APBC members and supporters to use their people connections to “go out and tell the story”.
In a pre-recorded message, Ambassador Hellen De La Vega said WA will find a strong partner in the APBC as the state pursues further trade engagement with the Philippines. She recalled that her very first state visit as Philippine ambassador was to WA, reflecting the significant history and dynamic relations between the state and the Philippines. She also mentioned that WA based Austal, Australia’s defence prime contractor, has a world-class shipyard in Cebu which demonstrates business confidence in the Philippines.
APBC Vice President for WA Michael Gillis stressed that while the Council did not launch last March as originally planned due to Covid 19 restrictions, APBC WA has been actively pursuing its strategic plan and is warmed by the positive response already received from the local business community and the state government. He pointed out two key action points: investigate food processing opportunities in WA for Philippine companies in view of disruption to supply chains by the pandemic; and explore investment opportunities in Philippine infrastructure projects to enhance trade in food production and processing.
Also in a pre-recorded message, MinDA Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro said that WA’’s proximity to Mindanao presents complementary opportunities. Mindanao is the Philippines’ second largest island and agri industry hub accounting for over 40% of the country’s food trade. He said Australia’s strong reputation for high quality products and sustainable technologies is of great interest to MinDA’s agri development strategies.
Speaking online from Sydney, APBC Eduard Alcordo cited an example of investor potential in the Philippines when a need for Filipino nurses in Australia was once pitched to an influential business circle. A prominent businesswoman expressed that her interest was in buying a hospital, not just staffing one.
Tony Chong, Commercial Advisor and Asia Specialist of Squire Patton and Boggs which sponsored the event closed the presentation component of the event with an invitation to the function attendees to join the networking drinks.