Inquirer.net: BC, Aussie groups exploring opportunities in PH

High-level business delegations from British Columbia and South Australia are currently in the Philippines not only to firm up their presence here and boost bilateral trade, but also to woo local companies to invest in their respective states.

The province of British Columbia, led by Premier Christy Clark, was in the country to grace the opening in Manila of its first trade and investment representative office in the Asean region, while South Australia Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith is leading its first business mission to the Philippines.

“The office opening marks a new chapter in BC’s relationship with the Philippines, supporting increased flow of goods, services, ideas and peoples between our two jurisdictions,” Clark said in a briefing on Thursday.

Clark said BC chose the Philippines for its first trade office in the region as the country was one of the fastest growing economies in the Asean. She said the country offered huge opportunities for growth in agrifood, clean energy, healthcare, infrastructure, forestry, information technology, services and international education.

She said she also held talks with Ayala Corp. and Jollibee Foods Corp. for possible investments in BC, positioned as the Philippines’ “strategic gateway to the North American market.”

With the opening of its trade office here, Clark expressed optimism that trade between the Philippines and the Canadian province could be doubled over the next several years.

“The Philippines has done a very good job in improving the business environment for foreign investments and that’s reflected in the statistics where we see growth in trade.”

The BC Premier also witnessed the signing of several memoranda of understanding between BC-based companies and local firms. These included those signed between software systems provider Incognito Software Inc. and Globe Telecom; Pharma Canada Inc. and Hi-Precision Diagnostics Inc., and University of British Columbia and De La Salle University.

Meanwhile, Hamilton-Smith said South Australian business groups were eyeing potential business opportunities and collaborations with local firms in food and wine; education; health; defense; science and technology; tourism, and arts and culture.

“There’s a lot of collaborations we can do. We’d really like to talk to the defense industry here about cooperation. We have a lot of defense companies in South Australia that want to do business in the Philippines.

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