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Aquino urges Australian traders to ‘ride the wave of optimism’ and invest in PHL

SYDNEY, Australia –President Benigno S. Aquino III offers a toast during the State Luncheon hosted in his honor by Premier of New South Wales the Honorable Barry O’Farrell MP at the Strangers’ Dining Room of the Parliament House here on Thursday (October 25, 2012) in connection with his State Visit to Australia. The President’s visit aims to pursue closer and broader relations based on a long history of cooperation, common interests and shared values between the Philippines and Australia. (MNS photo)

SYDNEY, Australia, Oct 25 (Mabuhay) – President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday encouraged businessmen here to “ride the wave of optimism” and invest in the Philippines which, he said, has reeled from its previous tag of being the ‘Sick Man of Asia’ to ‘Asia’s Next Tiger.’

Speaking before a roomful of audience at the Philippines-Australia business forum held at the Shangri La Hotel, President Aquino took pride at the positive comments made on the Philippines by several publications and analysts as well as the actions taken by international credit ratings agencies in recent months.

“The Philippine economy has been turned around, and it is continuing to gain speed. And I am here today to invite you all to come along, and to be part of the Philippine story,” President Aquino said.

President Aquino announced several opportunities which investors can take advantage of including infrastructure projects via the public-private partnership program and other ventures in the fields of business process outsourcing (BPO), shipbuilding, and mining, among others.

“We will be putting up more projects for bidding in our Public-Private Partnership program. Right now, there are around 21 projects in the pipeline, including the water supply project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System worth 25 billion pesos,” the President said.

“Knowing just how many infrastructure builders and investors are here in Australia, might I invite all of you to study these projects, and, if the shoe fits, to work with us for our mutual benefit,” he added.

Recognizing that the BPO sector in the country has been the “force that has buoyed the Philippine economy” for the past decade or so, the President vowed that his administration will keep working to provide industries the talent they need to continue and even expand their operations.

“Our ambition for our BPO sector is for it to be the world’s number one—not just in Voice BPO, but in other services higher up the value chain as well. I believe our workers have the talent to do it, and I invite your companies to come over and be part of it,” he said.

There are also opportunities in shipbuilding investments in the country especially after the President’s meeting with Austal, an Australian company which already has operations in the Philippines that specializes in the design and construction of aluminum vessels, earlier in the day.

“Considering our skilled work force and the sheer amount of coastline we have, perhaps it comes as no surprise that we have the fourth largest shipbuilding industry in the world. I know that Austal has already made some investments in Cebu, and we are hoping for even more in the future,” he said.

President Aquino, also reiterated the potential of the mining industry in the Philippines given the estimated untapped mineral wealth amounting to 951 billion dollars. He said the Philippines wishes to take advantage of this wealth in the most equitable and environmentally -friendly manner.

“The issuance of Executive Order 79 earlier this year, which laid out the legal framework under which mining can be practiced in the Philippines, is putting an end to years where mining was often seen as an environmentally harmful and socially unacceptable industry,” the President said.

“Soon, we expect a bill to be passed through Congress that will make sure that the benefits of mining will be experienced, in an equitable manner, by all stakeholders – from the investors, to the government, and to current and future generations of Filipinos,” he said.

According to the President, mining is an industry that is worth looking into, especially for Australian mining companies, who have the size, expertise, and global best practices to take on large, long-term developmental projects in the Philippines.

“Truly, opportunities abound in the Philippines. As President, I encourage all of you to ride the wave of optimism –to get on the next flight to our country, and to discover for yourselves what the Filipino can offer,” the President said.

“The first step can start right here, right now. I look forward to the contacts to be made between yourselves and my economic team. You will find them sensible, sincere, and efficient, and I believe they will do a good job in convincing you that it is not just more fun in the Philippines, but also more profitable,” he concluded. (MNS)

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