Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual met with Australia’s Trade and Tourism Minister, Senator the Honorable Don Farrell and his delegation on 25 April 2023 to discuss enhancement of current relations in the context of ongoing discussions toward a strategic partnership.
Economic and trade relations with Australia are undertaken through bilateral and regional mechanisms such as the Philippines-Australia Industry and Investments Dialogue (PATIID), the Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM), and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).
“Through these mechanisms, we hope to work with Australia in improving the country’s market access and achieving a more balanced trade,” Secretary Pascual said.
Aside from the ongoing upgrade negotiations of the AANZFTA, which is expected to deliver huge benefits in the services sector and other non-market access areas, Secretary Pascual and Minister Farrell also recognized that there are opportunities for collaboration in the field of renewable energy. Minister Farrell highlighted that they see the Philippines as an important partner, especially as they undertake measures to decarbonize their economy.
With this, Secretary Pascual said that “The Philippines is likewise transitioning towards increased renewable energy usage. We recently liberalized the investment regime to allow the entry of more foreign players in the wind, solar, tidal sectors. We also welcome players that can add value to our rich mineral reserves of nickel, copper and cobalt for the processing of batteries for electric vehicles.”
Further, the Ministers identified a number of mutually beneficial industries and sectors for close collaboration, including hydrogen, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and tourism. The Philippines also promoted the opportunities for Filipino workers to be trained in green jobs, which can be Australia’s source of talent and skilled workers.
Both sides also provided updates on regional and multilateral engagements under the ongoing ASEAN Australia New Zealand FTA upgrade and the negotiations of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. To further substantiate the topics raised in the meeting, both Ministers welcomed the convening of the 6th Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) and the 3rd Philippines – Australia Trade, Investment, and Industry Dialogue targeted to be convened this year.
In 2022, Australia was the Philippines’ 14th top trading partner (out of 231), 18th export market (out of 213), and 12th import supplier (out of 216), with total trade of USD3.4 billion. It was also the 11th largest source of approved investments at PHP722.26 million during the same year.