Aussie firms ‘paying serious attention’ to PH; economic reforms cited

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

November 22, 2023, 9:14 pm

<p>Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu. <em>(PNA photo by Jesus Escaros)</em></p>

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu. (PNA photo by Jesus Escaros)

MANILA – Australian businesses are “paying serious attention” to the Philippines, said Australian Ambassador HK Yu on Wednesday citing key economic reforms in the country.

“They have actually seen opportunities in the broader Southeast Asia for a number of years now and we have seen an active engagement with Indonesia and Vietnam, but in more recent years, they are starting to pay serious attention to the Philippines as well,” she said during the 2023 Pilipinas Conference in Makati City.

Yu said the country had been sending the world the “right signals” in terms of its economic reforms, regulatory framework, and “consistency in that”.

She also cited efforts by the government to open up to foreign investments.

“The view about the Philippines is changing. There is still more work to be done, but it is changing. And together I believe we can bring more Australian investors, Australian companies here,” she said.

Under its new Southeast Asia Economic Strategy 2040, Canberra is also funding an AUD19.2 million program to boost two-way trade between Australia and Southeast Asia.

Among the initiatives in the program include business missions targeting priority sectors in the region, including the Philippines.

“The government is very keen to do those missions overseas,” Yu told the Philippines News Agency.

“We want to attract really big Australian companies even those who’ve never been to the Philippines. We’re kind of encouraging them to come and see what the Philippines has got to offer,” she added.

In the same forum, Finance Secretary Diokno said the Philippines remains as “one of the brightest spots in the region” despite external risks and domestic challenges.

Diokno highlighted that the Philippine economy posted the strongest third-quarter growth of 5.9 percent in the region, bringing the GDP expansion for the first three quarters of 2023 to 5.5 percent.

Among the key reforms being pursued by the government to accelerate economic development are the Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Bill, the Passive Income and Financial Intermediaries Taxation Bill, and the value-added tax (VAT) on digital services. (PNA)