The Australian Government’s New Approach
In a groundbreaking move, the Australian government is set to establish investment deal teams in Southeast Asia, marking a significant departure from their traditional approach.
Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Christopher Lim of the Australian Embassy in Manila described this initiative as “revolutionary,” emphasizing its significance during a media reception at the residence of Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM in Makati City.
Encouraging Overseas Investment
Lim highlighted that the Australian government typically encourages overseas companies to invest in Australia. However, he noted a shift in strategy, stating,
“This is actually revolutionary for us. We never do something like that.”
He further elaborated that the realization behind this change is that Australia has not been investing adequately in its own region.
A New Focus on Southeast Asia
Australia’s investment strategy has historically favored countries like New Zealand, which has a population of only 5 million, over the 680 million market in the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Yu passionately emphasized that the newly established deal teams will be proactively seeking opportunities within the ASEAN region, ensuring that Australian businesses are well-positioned to invest and thrive.
Southeast Asia Economic Strategy 2040
Yu highlighted the importance of economic relations and Australia’s commitment to the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy 2040. This strategy, announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, includes the establishment of Investment Deal Teams across Southeast Asia as one of its key measures.
Yu expressed the desire to witness more scalable investments in the Philippines as part of this strategy.
Focus on the Philippines
Lim noted that although the Philippines does not host a deal team, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (AusTrade) will closely collaborate with these teams to encourage Australian firms to invest in the Philippines.
He pointed out the advantages that the Philippines offers, such as a young, digital-savvy, English-speaking population, which presents opportunities in various sectors, including technology, creative industries, and education.
Apart from the investment deal teams, the Australian government’s “Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040” includes other immediate actions. These include the Southeast Asia Business Exchange, aimed at boosting two-way trade between ASEAN and Australia, and the Placements and Internships Pilot Program for Young Professionals.
The Australian government has earmarked substantial funds to support these initiatives. Specifically, they have committed to invest 70.2 million Australian dollars in the investment deal teams, 19.2 million Australian dollars in the Southeast Asia Business Exchange, and 6 million Australian dollars in the internship program over the course of four years.
This significant financial commitment underscores the seriousness of their intent to bolster economic ties with Southeast Asia and further underscores their dedication to fostering regional growth and collaboration.
Addressing Investment Disparities
In light of the pressing need for increased investment, Moya Collet, the embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission, notably pointed out that ASEAN countries are presently receiving a mere 3.4 percent of Australia’s total overseas investments.
To address this disparity, as part of their concerted efforts, the AusTrade has outlined the pivotal role of the investment deal teams in Southeast Asia. These teams will not only identify opportunities in priority sectors but also provide invaluable market intelligence. Moreover, they will offer expert guidance on risk management and regulatory processes.
The Australian government’s innovative and forward-thinking approach seeks to not only address these disparities but also strengthen economic ties with Southeast Asia. Their aim is to actively stimulate investments in the region, all while emphasizing the immense potential for growth and fruitful collaboration in the years to come.