Australia eyes elevated ties with PH on economy, agri, defense

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

March 1, 2024, 6:59 pm

MANILA – Australia is seeking a “new level of engagement” with the Philippines in various areas of cooperation such as economy, education, agriculture, and defense, Malacañang said on Friday

The commitment was made by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during the second and last day of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s visit to Canberra on Thursday, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.

“The Philippines and Australia are taking a new level of engagement under the framework of the Strategic Partnership, anchored in a common vision of ‘a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,’” Garafil said.

“Albanese noted the two countries have set goals to attain said vision through strengthening economic ties, building connections on education and skills, continuing shared efforts on agriculture research, and deepening cooperation in defense,” she added.

Garafil said Albanese is also confident that there is a “great potential” for growth in the two countries’ trade and investment.

This, as Albanese cited the deepening two-way trade and investment links between the two nations, noting that the Philippine-based company International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) will open this week its new USD235-million expanded facilities at the Port of Melbourne in Australia.

Albanese said the ICTSI’s business expansion is “a welcome example” of available opportunities to grow both nations’ economic ties.

Considering that Australia's economic future lies with Southeast Asia, Albanese said his government is determined to drive growth in trade and investment, in line with the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040.

Garafil said Albanese is committed to continue working with the Philippines to elevate the strategic partnership between the two countries.

“Australia has recognized the Philippines’ potential as one of the fastest growing economies in the Indo-Pacific region noting that the relationship between the two nations could still be enhanced further through the current Strategic Partnership,” she said.

Australian Governor-General David Hurley, who invited Marcos to visit Canberra as a “guest” of the Australian government, also believes that the strategic partnership between the Philippines and Australia “looks bright,” Garafil said.

Garafil said Hurley sees Marcos’ two-day visit to Canberra as an opportunity to further strengthen the relations of the two nations’ governments, economies, and peoples.

“The Australian official also noted that the strategic partnership between the Philippines and Australia, which was officially signed by President Marcos and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in September 2023, will further deepen the engagement of the two countries on both bilateral and multilateral fronts,” she said. (PNA)