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Philippine businesses urged to tap Australia

Local businesses are urged to take advantage of new opportunities stemming from the recent tariff reductions between Australia-New Zealand and Southeast Asia for increased trade and the development of the economies of both regions.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith said local exporters should start looking at other markets, especially given the slowdown in the country’s traditional market, the United States.

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“Australia has never really been seen as an export market for the Philippines because of its small population,” Rod said in a recent interview with Inquirer editors and reporters.

Despite its relatively small population of 22 million—compared to the Philippines’ over 90 million—Australia is the world’s 13th-largest economy, Smith said.

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“Perception is a big part of that problem, but now we are trying to get people to turn their heads in our direction,” Smith said.

He said Australia and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) traded about $90 billion worth of goods and services in 2010. Of the total, trade with the Philippines amounted to only $2.8 billion.

“That’s only about 3 percent. We consider the Philippines part of the top five Asean economies, so we believe there can be so much more trade with Australia,” he said.

The recently signed Asean-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) 2010 is a golden opportunity for Filipino exporters to increase their reach. Today, about 96 percent of products exported by the Philippines to Australia are now tariff-free.

Under the agreement, the phasing out of tariffs from Australia to the Philippines and its neighbors in the region would be completed by 2020.

Australia’s biggest trading partners in the region are Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

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TAGS: Australia, Business, New Zealand, Philippines, Trade
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