NEW AMBASSADOR. New Australian Ambassador Hae Kyong Yu to the Philippines says in an interview in Davao City on Friday (Dec. 9, 2022) that around USD89 million worth of development program for the country is in the pipeline, a big chunk of which is allotted for Mindanao. (PNA photo by Robinson Niñal Jr.)

DAVAO CITY – Australia has allotted around USD89 million worth of development projects for the Philippines, the newly designated Australian envoy to the country said during a visit here Friday.

“We have a development program which is Australia’s fifth largest in the world for the Philippines. A big part of that goes straight to Mindanao,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu said in an interview with reporters here.

She said the program covers areas in education, community resilience and humanitarian disaster response.

“We have also assisted in the area of health, particularly during the pandemic by providing vaccines and mental assistance through our wonderful partners. We also have around eight projects on environmental conservation, sports, emergency preparedness, and livelihood programs,” she said.

With the strong relations between Australia and the Philippines, Yu said Australia is looking to elevate the partnership further.

“Our relationship has moved into more of the strategic nature because we have real true friends and partners and the world is a complex place at the moment and so our partnership has become more important,” the envoy said.

Yu hopes that the strategic partnership will be signed by the two leaders next year.

“Under that partnership, we will be able to do even more together. Whether it’s in the area of people movement, so for example one of the areas we want to achieve in the partnership is a new program of exchanging people so that they can work in our country,” she said.

Apart from that, she said Australia also wanted to build stronger economic engagement with a focus on the Philippines.

“As you can see, this is a relationship that is really happening and is very exciting. We already worked closely and our people-to-people links are so strong with over 400,000 Filipinos living in Australia and many students go there to study,” Yu said.

She also emphasized that the diplomatic tie is one of the most important and exciting relationships that Australia has in any country in the region.

“Australia and the Philippines have had a very long and deep relationship. We celebrated the 75th anniversary of our diplomatic relations last year and that shows how long our relationship has been,” Yu said.

Yu also cited the trade and investment relationship between the two countries wherein the Philippines exported durian to Australia as fresh frozen goods.

“It goes with a very good price today in Australia and is very high in demand. I think there are a lot more opportunities to trade and invest in each other’s country and in the region as well,”  she said. (PNA)