Australia’s Phl stakes up

Wong’s high-level visit to Manila earlier this month may serve as a precedent to a possible in-person meeting between President Marcos Jr. and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Photograph Courtesy of Australia in Manila | Australia’s partnership with the Philippines is strengthened by over 50 years of development cooperation. Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Vice President Sara Duterte meet over how the Australian funding for Southeast Asia effectively supports Philippine priorities.

It’s due season for the Philippines, an increasingly lucrative investment destination that embodies a shift in the center of gravity in the regional economy.

The country’s bullish business prospects post-pandemic are propped up by the recent increase in direct investments, which continue to inspire business confidence in the Philippines.

Among the flurry of such inflows is Australian, what with the country’s AUD89.9 million (P3.32 billion) worth of official development assistance (2023 to 2024) to the Philippines.

This came at the heels of a productive meeting between Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and DFA Sec. Enrique Manalo last week, a fund that will be channeled mostly to programs on inclusive economic growth, education, training and scholarships, disaster and climate resilience, and peace and stability in the Bangsamoro.

Ongoing cooperation in the areas of science and innovation, people-to-people exchanges, law and justice is also uppermost, as well as defense, maritime, and counter-terrorism.

Wong said Australia considers providing drones and other technology as a part of maritime cooperation package to buttress the Philippines’ position in waters adjacent to many sovereign interests.

Manila and Canberra are a long-standing “important security partner” in the region according to Wong, who added that Australia also thinks trilateral partnerships with the Philippines on joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea is also possible.

The fund is on top of Canberra’s AUD10.95-million (P405 million) pledge for the establishment of a new immunization information and strengthened laboratory network and surveillance systems in the Philippines for health emergencies like the recent pandemic.

The Philippines had received approximately P3.1-billion ODA last year. The bulk of it was pivotal in the realization of the peace process in the Bangsamoro.

The two countries are exploring investment cooperation on critical minerals and the improvement of two-way tourism. “Work and holiday visa arrangement” are also high on the negotiation table.

Wong’s high-level visit to Manila earlier this month may serve as a precedent to a possible in-person meeting between President Marcos Jr. and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese come the Asean-Australia Summit in March 2024, or a bilateral visit soon.


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