EARLIER this year, I was fortunate to have visited this country and consulted with government, community, and business leaders on ways Australia and the Philippines can grow their economic relationship.
What I saw during my consultations in the Philippines, and across Southeast Asia, assured me that the region has a bright economic future.
Australia’s prosperity and security are linked to this region. It will be home to one of the most dramatic economic transformations of the 21st Century. Population growth, increasing large and affluent middle classes, and urbanization trends will create growing demand for a wider range of goods, services, and skills.
Looking for options to boost economic growth, I believe my country has much to offer the region as a trusted and reliable partner.
Australia knows that the Philippines will be a significant part of Southeast Asia’s economic future, with its gross domestic product or GDP growth projected to be among the highest in the region over the next five years.
Invested in S.E.A.
IN this context, we recently recognized two milestones in the Australia-Philippines economic relationship. First, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese traveled to Manila and, alongside President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., signed our new Australia-Philippines Strategic Partnership. This includes a commitment to bolster our two-way trade and investments, as well as enhance our overall economic engagement.
The day before he arrived in Manila, the prime minister along with Foreign Minister Penny Wong also launched my new report for the Australian government: Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040.
This linkage, and the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040, will be the blueprint for the Philippines and Australia’s economic relationship going forward.
Expanding Australia’s trade and investment links with the Philippines and our region is critical in ensuring our shared future prosperity. My strategy sets out a practical pathway to capitalize on this opportunity, and recommends ways governments can increase two-way trade with the region—including by raising awareness, removing blockages, building capacity, and deepening investments.
I welcome the Australian government’s commitment to immediately support key initiatives that go to the heart of the strategy.
To increase investment in the region, Australia will establish deal teams to help identify opportunities and commercial partners, provide market intelligence, as well as guidance on risk, regulation and government liaising.
To raise awareness on regional opportunities among Australian businesses, we will initiate a Southeast Asia Business Exchange focused on organizing business missions, targeting priority sectors and stepping-up coordination with its diaspora.
The Australian government will also deliver a local trade- and investment-promotion campaign, which will build understanding of Southeast Asian goods and services, while highlighting the region as an investment destination.
And to grow capability in Australia and the region, a placements and internships pilot program for young professionals—with an initial focus on investment, energy transition and the digital economy—will help build enduring links between Australian and Southeast Asian businesses.
THESE initiatives are impactful first steps to advance Australia’s ambition to significantly expand commercial links with the region. Our local businesses are also taking notice of opportunities the region presents, as more than 170 Australian business people attended the recent Asean Summits in Jakarta.
In the Philippines, I am most optimistic about growing our two-way trade and investments in education and skills, agriculture and food, resources, infrastructure, and the green-energy transition.
In agriculture, we can already see signs of trade increasing between our two countries. Case in point: A shipment of delicious Philippine mangoes arrived in Australia just last week. Philippine mango growers can now provide their product to a new market, and Aussies can enjoy the luscious fruit through winter.
Maintaining invested and long-term efforts from both Australian businesses and government, the Philippines and across the region are essential to ensure we are positioned to maximize our shared economic potential, from now until 2040, and beyond. I am optimistic about growing together if we maintain this focus.
“Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040” is available at www.dfat.gov.au/southeastasiaeconomicstrategy.