The Australia Philippines Business Council (APBC) hosted a successful roundtable meeting in Melbourne with Philippine Ambassador to Australia Hellen De La Vega and business leaders on 20 August 2019. 

Photo credit: Johanna Smith

Victoria-based APBC directors Vick Pillay and Alex Sy led other APBC members, event sponsors Global Victoria and La Naval in welcoming Ambassador De La Vega and her official entourage during her first official visit to the state. 

In her keynote remarks, the Ambassador acknowledged APBC as a “natural partner of the Embassy” with a stake in ensuring robust bilateral relations and economic ties. She urged the business community to participate in the country’s positive growth trajectory, do more business with the Philippines and spread the good news about the country’s thriving business climate. 

“The game-changing reforms instituted by the government are paying off. The economy remains resilient. We are the third fastest-growing in Asia and our credit rating has just been upgraded to BBB+, the highest we have achieved,” said Ambassador De La Vega. 

Recent bold policy reforms include the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL), which allows 100% foreign participation in investments that introduce new technologies; and the Innovation and Start-Up Acts that have seen the launch of strategies to grow the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

Ambassador De La Vega underscored the need for bilateral trade relations to be more balanced – the Philippines imports $1.4 billion from Australia and exports $430 million. 

“For the Australian market we are promoting automotive parts, electronics, furniture, homewares, décor, fashion, and IT-BPM services,” she added. 

The Ambassador proudly noted major Philippine companies contributing to the Australian economy – International Container Terminal Services, San Miguel, Monde Nissin, and Ramcar – and the significant presence of Philippine investments in Australia currently valued at AUD 1.3 billion.

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