Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno met with Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu and Australia’s Special Envoy for Southeast Asia Nicholas Moore to explore deepening Philippine-Australian cooperation on areas such as privatization of airports, development of the mining industry, and agriculture technology.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the official launch of Australia’s Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I) initiative in the Philippines on March 24, 2023 at the Conrad Manila, Pasay City.
Ambassador Yu said that the Australian Government is hoping to drum up interest among Australian companies in the possible privatization of airports in the Philippines.
Under the recently amended Public Service Act (PSA), industries such as airports, railways, toll roads, expressways, and telecommunications are now open to full foreign ownership. The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the amendments to the PSA was released on March 20, 2023 and will be effective on April 4, 2023.
Moore added that the Philippines can learn from the case of the privatization of Sydney Airport in 2002, which he said was a success. He argued that privatization has the potential to deepen the contribution of airports to economic activity through increased freight capacity and more links to the rest of the world.
Secretary Diokno shared that the Philippines and Australia can also look into cooperation in mining, particularly in sharing best practices in taxation, engagement with mining communities, and mining technologies.
Ambassador Yu shared that the Australian government is currently working with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Philippine companies through a series of mining missions to Australia. The learning tours serve as an opportunity for Filipino mining stakeholders to learn more about Australian mining best practices.
Finally, Secretary Diokno highlighted agriculture as a key priority sector of the Marcos Jr. administration.
Moore said that the Philippines may explore opportunities to tap into Australian skills and technology in agriculture. He mentioned Australia’s expertise in agriculture technology and the use of renewables in power distribution, which is relevant in modern farms.
The Philippines is one of Australia’s longest-standing bilateral partners, with diplomatic relations spanning 77 years.
Philippine-Australian cooperation covers trade, investment, defense, security, and development, underpinned by strong people-to-people linkages.