By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter

AUSTRALIA’s investment and education promotion agency said it considers the Philippines a promising market for its agriculture, cybersecurity, and education companies.

It added that Australian industries long established in the Philippines like mining are also positive on the country’s prospects.

“We are very bullish about the prospects for Philippine economic growth and correspondingly, we are also very focused and also very hopeful about increasing links between Australia and Philippines in terms of trade, economic, and education ties,” Austrade Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Christopher Lim said in a briefing on Friday. 

He said the Australian government and companies have seen the potential of upgrading the economic relationship between the two countries.

“We have seen a huge uptick in terms of the number of Australian companies coming into the Philippines and these Australian companies range from agrifood, education institutions, also mining firms, technology companies and cybersecurity companies,” he said.

The value of two-way trade between the Philippines and Australia totaled 6 billion Australian dollars last year, representing growth of 18% from 2021.

“The Philippines is Australia’s 15th largest export partner so, I think there is room for improvement there,” Mr. Lim said.

Australia also currently has around 30,000 Filipino students, much larger than the 18,000 students before the pandemic.

“This is an example of how where we think the relationship is going,” said Mr. Lim.

He added that the start of mango exports to Australia, which arrived in Perth and Sydney last month, is also one trade item in which the Australian government sees strong prospects.

“The first shipments were oversold so, everything points to a very robust bilateral economic relationship between Australia and the Philippines,” he said.

“I reckon there is a lot of demand and with any luck I think this is something which Filipino farmers should really look forward to focusing on — ensuring quality, timeliness, and making sure that it gets to Australia,” he added.

He said there remains a need to address supply chain issues, competition, and unclear policy to help support further growth of bilateral trade.

“We would love to see more Philippine exports into Australia but the thing is, because of the structure of your economy, supply chain issues, and also competition, it’s very hard to actually raise it,” Mr. Lim said.

He said Philippine mangoes have had access to Australia for some time, but there was not enough supply.

“It’s just that there isn’t enough supply and consistent quality to come to Australia, so I think more effort has to be put in to actually ensuring good quality and supply and timely delivery,” he added.

He sees a possible opportunity to bring pineapple to Australia as their own crop is considered sour, and not sweet like Philippine pineapple.

In terms of regulations, Mr. Lim said that the Australian government and companies would like to see a lot more clarity, simplification, and consistency in the imposition of policies.

“We do know that there are challenges here in the Philippines in that regard, but on the other hand that there are countering forces such as the President’s Anti-Red Tape Authority has been extremely helpful in making sure that they get the right people together … and sort out the issues,” he said.