STRONGER TIES. Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson is on a three-day visit to Ilocos Norte to push for stronger economic, trade ties. Ilocos Norte's potential in agribusiness and green energy are being explored for a possible partnership. (PNA photo by Leilanie G. Adriano

LAOAG CITY – Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson on Thursday expressed optimism on the country’s economy to bounce back next year amid a global pandemic.

As the vaccination rate is being ramped up and businesses and the financial sector continue to receive support from various linkages, Robinson said more than 300 Australian firms, employing around 44,000 Filipinos are eyeing to grow their investment in the Philippines.

While on a three-day visit to Ilocos Norte, he said the Australian government is looking at the province’s potential in agri-business and green energy which they can work with to strengthen the country’s economic growth.

“Australian companies would like to position themselves as leaders in some of these. Now, this is what we are looking at to try and establish our linkages in Ilocos Norte,” he said.

He said Australia has allocated around PHP1.8 billion development assistance to the Philippines to boost its coronavirus disease 2019 response including logistical support to education, infrastructure, and governance, among others.

For this year, the country’s economy has been projected to grow by 6.4 percent, according to the Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office despite the less optimistic forecast of other organizations.

Several firms including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Asian Development Bank also downgraded their forecasts for the year following the surge of infection and reimposition of various stages of lockdowns. (PNA)