Australian Economy

Marikina Rep. Estella Quimbo explores investment avenues in Australia to boost Philippine economy

Key Points
  • Congresswoman Stella Quimbo concludes Canberra Fellowship Program participation with focus on economic collaboration.
  • The Canberra Fellowships Program (CFP) was established in 2018 to bring high-calibre emerging leaders from the Indo-Pacific region to Australia.
In a diplomatic effort aimed at fostering strategic ties between the Philippines and Australia, Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo has been invited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to participate in the from 15-19 January 2024.
The program, initiated in 2018, facilitates visits by accomplished Indo-Pacific leaders from various sectors, including politics, business, public service, judiciary, journalism, and academia, fostering an exchange of insights and experiences. With a focus on tailored individual and small-group visits, the program aims to enhance regional understanding of Australia’s strengths, interests, and perspectives.

During her visit, Congresswoman Quimbo, a former Commissioner of the Philippine Consumer Commission, explored avenues to attract Australian investors to the Philippines, with a specific emphasis on enhancing export opportunities.

Australia is not the top exporter in the Philippines, and the Philippines is not a top exporter in Australia. There are plenty of ways to increase the level of trade between the countries.

Philippine Congresswoman Stella Quimbo

She further addressed the pressing issue of job opportunities in the Philippines, pointing out the potential impact of initiatives like mango exports to Australia.
Quimbo says, “If we can increase export opportunities, this will help create more jobs for the Filipino people.”
Making the Philippines investment-friendly
Highlighting challenges, Congresswoman Quimbo points to the restrictive nature of the Philippines’ constitution, featuring a 60/40 limitation on foreign ownership.
Foreign business groups have been calling on the government to lift the 40 percent limit on foreign ownership of local firms.
Chief Socioeconomic Planner Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said in an interview During the 2024 Economic Outlook Forum hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, that eliminating protectionist provisions would enhance the country’s appeal to foreign investors, potentially fueling economic growth.
Just a week ago, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called on the Senate to conduct a comprehensive review of the economic provisions within the 1987 Constitution.
Responding promptly, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri introduced Resolution of Both Houses No. 6, proposing amendments that would permit foreign ownership in specific public utilities.

Engaging with key Australian organisations

Rep. Stella Quimbo

Dr. Stella Quimbo with policy specialists at Lowy Institute and a representative from the Philippine Institute at the Australian National University. Photo by: Australian Embassy in the Philippines

Throughout the week, Representative Quimbo engaged in discussions with Australian officials, including Minister for Trade and Tourism Senator the Hon Don Farrell and Assistant Minister for Competition Hon. Andrew Leigh MP.

The Australian National University Philippines Institute hosted Congresswoman Quimbo, facilitating interactions focused on academic, cultural, and institutional aspects.

The agenda also included meetings with key organisations such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Productivity Commission, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Lowy Institute, and SBS.

Rep Quimbo at SBS

Congresswoman Quimbo during her visit to SBS, captured with Holly Brimble of Corporate Affairs, Filipino producers Edinel Magtibay and Annalyn Violata, and Program Manager Abdullah Alikhil.

She also acknowledged the support from the Australian embassy, highlighting a previous collaboration during her tenure as the former commissioner of the Philippine Consumer Commission, which was established in 2016. She noted that representatives were sent to Australia to learn from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), benefiting from valuable scholarships through the program.

Thankful for the opportunity, Congresswoman Quimbo expressed her commitment to applying the insights gained during her recent visit back to the Philippines.

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