Australian firms want Canberra to forge bilateral trade deal with Manila

The Philippines and Australia should consider forging a bilateral free-trade agreement (FTA) to enable them to maximize the benefits of the forthcoming Asean economic integration, businessmen belonging to the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (Anzcham) said.

Tom Grealy, president of Anzcham, said Australian companies can use the Philippines as their staging point or regional hub for their Southeast Asian expansion in growth sectors, as well as in harnessing Asean value chains.

“By gaining greater access to the Philippine market as a regional base, Australian firms can access regional value chains while creating jobs in the Philippines,” Grealy said.

The need to forge a Manila-Canberra FTA was validated by a study conducted by the Anzcham, titled “Winning the Asean Market: Impact of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) on Australian and Philippine Business Relations.”

The report concluded that a bilateral economic-partnership agreement between the two countries would further the growth of two-way trade and investment between Australia and the Philippines.

It said the AEC, set to begin in January, highlighted the advantages of creating a deeper and broader economic partnership between the two countries.

The study specified that there are ripe opportunities in goods, such as agricultural, processed food, spirits and beverage products; pharmaceuticals, generics and supplements, manufacturing and electrical components and machinery; metals, copper, precious stones and coins, minerals, oils, animal and vegetables fats, fuels and distillation products; and optical, photo, technical  and medical apparatus.

It also identified opportunities in the services sector, such as transnational education, travel, transport and logistics; engineering and architectural design services; financial services, including insurance, accounting and actuarial services; information-technology consulting and management services; health and medical services; advertising and marketing, business-process management, creative services, and infrastructure.

The three recommendations highlighted by the Anzcham president are support to Australian firms through access to Asean value chains; a bilateral economic partnership to cement market access; and to push the removal of barriers that hinder entry and growth of foreign businesses  and investments.

With over 300 members, Anzcham is the premier business organization supporting the development and growth of Australian and New Zealand businesses in the Philippines.

The AEC study was undertaken with funding support from the Australian Trade Commission’s Asian Business Engagement Plan.

The study assessed the potential impacts of AEC on Australia-Philippines trade and investment relations, focusing on opportunities for Australian business under an AEC regime, and provides guidance to Australian industries by identifying possible business opportunities arising from the Asean integration. 

Source: Business Mirror

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