Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Victorian Super Trade Mission to the Philippines
Garden Ballroom, EDSA Shangri-la Hotel
21 June 2013 at 6.00 pm
The Hon Peter Walsh MLA, Assistant Secretary Catbagan, members of the Super Trade Mission to the Philippines, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to this reception hosted by Minister Walsh of the Australian State of Victoria. It is not very often that the Philippines is visited by an Australian state trade mission of this size. I therefore congratulate the Victorian Department of State Development, Business and Innovation and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries for initiating this Super Trade Mission to Manila.
As I told the Minister earlier today, the Mission could not have come at a better time. The Philippine economy has been performing above expectations, with 6.6% growth in GDP in 2012, the 2nd highest in Asia (2nd only to China). According to the Asian Development Bank, buoyant private consumption stimulated by higher remittances from overseas Filipinos and a rebound in government spending, particularly in infrastructure, drove the country’s strong economic growth in 2012.
For the first quarter of 2013, the Philippines continued to outperform its neighbours, including China, by registering 7.8% growth. GDP growth is forecast at 6% for 2013, with a similar growth anticipated for 2014.
This year, for the first time, the Philippines also achieved an investment rating grade from three international credit rating firms – Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor, and Japan Credit Rating Agency – with a likely fourth from Moody’s, affirming the country’s economic and fiscal gains and bolstering the country’s investment climate.
This is therefore, Minister, the right time for Australia to look seriously at the Philippines as an important export market. The trading relationship between Australia and the Philippines has been growing over the past couple of years as a result of the confluence of a number of positive factors, notably the implementation of the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Arrangement (AANZFTA) in 2010. Last year, total trade in goods and services between Australia and the Philippines reached almost A$3.5 billion, growing by 16.8% year on year.
As a result of the AANZFTA, tariffs for most temperate fruits have been eliminated, providing Australia with a competitive advantage over traditional suppliers from the USA, Chile and South Africa. Australia’s counter-seasonality to the Northern Hemisphere provides an opportunity for Australian exporters to supply the Philippine market when suppliers from the Northern Hemisphere are not in season.
The recent resolution of the treatment protocol for fresh fruits from Australia will not only open up more opportunities for Australian suppliers of temperate fruits and vegetables, but will also enable Philippine consumers to have better access to high quality Australian fresh fruits and vegetables.
The AANZFTA has also been pivotal for the meat export trade from Australia. Tariffs on lamb were eliminated in 2010, while tariffs on beef have been reduced to 0% starting in 2012. As a result, demand for Australian beef and lamb is expected to continue to grow.
I trust that the delegates of the Horticulture and Meat Missions who flew into Manila this week as part of the Super Trade Mission were able to get a firsthand view of the potential of this market for Australian meat and horticulture products. I encourage you to consider the opportunities carefully and to take the next steps towards securing a successful and profitable trade relationship with the Philippines.
The Embassy and the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) are more than ready to assist you win more business in the Philippines.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of the evening.