The Australia Philippines Business Council in partnership with the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Tourism, organized an Economic Spotlight mixer showcasing positive trends in innovation and industry in the Philippines on 28 March 2023 in Perth, WA. The event was led by APBC Vice President Western Australia, Louisa Cotter and featured presentations of Department of Science and Technology Secretary (DOST) Renato Solidum Jr. and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna.
Ambassador De La Vega highlighted in her keynote address that despite the rising inflation, the Philippines posted its highest GDP growth in 46 years at 7.6% and exceeded its foreign direct investment targets in 2022, cementing itself as a viable and ideal destination for foreign investment. She emphasized that the strategic location of the country allows businesses access to the ASEAN, US and EU markets and is at the crossroads of major international shipping and airlines.
DOST Secretary Solidum presented Philippine opportunities on science, technology and innovation (STI). He cited the 2023 Technology and Innovation report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development wherein the Philippines ranked second, next to India, as the top overperforming country on frontier technologies readiness index. The Secretary gave updates on key initiatives of the government to foster an enabling environment to support the development of STI, including healthcare innovations and telemedicine, support for startups, and investment in human capital such as the Balik Scientist Program, DOST scholarship programs and other efforts to enhance digital workforce.
DENR Undersecretary Cuna discussed the mining landscape in the Philippines and the country’s commitment to ensuring a resilient, dynamic and sustainable and responsive mining industry which can support the goals of the country‘s development plan. He stated that the Philippines is one of the most mineralized countries in the world with high mineral potentials, but only 2.42% of the known highly mineralized zones are under development. Globally, the Philippines ranks third in gold, fourth in copper, fifth in nickel and sixth in chromite deposits.
Ambassador De La Vega stated that with the infrastructure developments in the country and game-changing reforms enacted to further open its economy, the Philippines is positioning itself in the region as a manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and investment hub and a center of training and education. She invited the business community to seize opportunities to invest in the Philippines.
Australian Ambassador to Manila HK Yu noted that the Philippine priority sectors put forward by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., namely sustainable mining, renewable energy, food security, digitalization, and research and education align closely with Australia’s areas of expertise. She reaffirmed Australia‘s readiness to continue collaboration in these areas towards mutually beneficial and tangible outcomes.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Mae Elaine Bathan and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General Manuel Antonio Tamayo were also in attendance along with Philippine Airlines executives led by President and COO Captain Stanley Ng and business mining delegates from the Philippines led by former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Delia Domingo-Albert.
Australia is a major trade and investment partner of the Philippines. Currently, there are over 200 Australian companies in the Philippines employing over 41,000 Filipinos in BPO, infrastructure, banking, telecommunications, energy and education sectors.