By Rodel Alzona & Recto Mercene
AUSTRALIA is expecting two-way trade with the Philippines to further expand this year, after sustained growth over the last five years.
Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely said they have seen a marked increase in trade between the two countries.
“Trade between Australia and the Philippines is at $4.20 billion and increasing fast at the rate of 10 percent over the last five years,” Gorely said while counting beef, lamb, wine, wheat, consulting services, services and engineering as their main exports.
There are also 200 Australian companies operating in the Philippines and employing over 30,000 Filipinos in the business-process outsourcing, finance, oil and gas, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors.
On the Philippine side, main exports to Australia include heating and cooling equipment, electrical machinery and parts, mechanical machinery, pumps, coconut and rubber tires.
Philippine companies, like International Container Terminal Services Inc., Monde Nissin and San Miguel Corp., are doing business in their country.
The Philippines ranks Australia among its top 20 import sources, while Australia is also in the top 20 among countries the Philippines sends exports.
Australia is looking toward sustained trade growth and investment links with the Philippines and views the economic reforms implemented by President Aquino as positive steps towards greater cooperation and building investor confidence.
The Philippines is also a signatory in the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area, which opens and creates new opportunities for its 600 million population and combined economic output of $.265 trillion.
The agreement will progressively reduce tariffs; facilitate movement of goods through flexible rules of origin; simplifies custom procedures; liberalize trade barriers; facilitate movement of individuals engaged in trade and investment; and installing an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
Meanwhile, Gorely is expected to visit Leyte, one of the provinces hardest hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda.
She will visit the province to see first- hand Australia’s rehabilitation work there, including the inauguration of a day-care center which the Australian government funded and the World War II memorial in Palo.
Australia was one of the countries that provided assistance in the aftermath of Yolanda when it deployed medical personnel in Tacloban.