WHILE the economic relationship between the Philippines and Australia is in “great shape,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said the bilateral trade remains under the AUD$5 billion-level per year.
“This may sound big, but it’s not enough. There is more to be done. I want to do much more in my three years (here),” said Robinson.
Total two-way trade of the Philippines and Australia was valued at $4.8 billion in 2017. Merchandise trade comprised the bulk of this trade at $3.2 billion, with services as a major component.
Australian services exports to the Philippines in 2017 totaled $763 million, while Australian imports of Philippine services totaled $907 million.
This trade in services was dominated by education-related travel, personal travel and business travel, reflecting both countries’ strong people-to-people links.
Australia’s economic team was in Cebu to celebrate The Philippines-Australia Friendship Day.
“Australia and the Philippines are close friends. Our friendship starts with the deep bonds between our people and we enjoy broad cooperation in trade, development, defense and security,” said Robinson.
He said he wants more Australian firms to invest in the Philippines so they can take advantage of the latter’s robust economy, which is poised to grow six percent in the next 10 years.
Elodie Journet, senior trade and investment commissioner of Austrade, the Australian trade and investment commission, said they will invite Australian companies to invest in the Philippines’ comprehensive infrastructure program, noting that their expertise in design engineering could help the Philippines erect sustainable infrastructure projects and even township developments.
There are about 300 Australian companies in the Philippines employing about 45,000 Filipinos.
Robinson, likewise, invited Filipino business owners to explore business opportunities in Australia, and take advantage of its advancement in the fields of innovation, science and technology, and renewable energy, among others.
Moreover, the Australian government vowed to help the Philippines boost its eco-tourism potential.
Journet said they are aware of the huge potential of the Philippines’ tourism sector, particularly in the eco-tourism sphere.
She said Australia is willing to help the Philippines strengthen its stance in the development of sustainable tourism, as eco-tourism is well known in their country.
“We are willing to partner in (attaining) socio-economic growth and help develop this new segment (of tourism) in the Philippines,” said Journet.
Australia is Central Visayas’ sixth tourist source market. Arrivals from Australia to the region grew 9.91 percent from 71,724 in 2017 to 78,832 in 2018. There are about 33 direct flights per week between Australia and Manila.
The Department of Tourism has set its eyes on promoting sustainable tourism in all of its destinations following the rehabilitation of Boracay Island.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat, in past interviews, said becoming a socially responsible destination could improve the economic state of communities, specifically in the grassroots level, while ensuring the protection and preservation of the environment.