Deputy Director-General Julio S. Amador III of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) spoke about the Philippines-Australia relations at the Australia-Philippines Policy Forum: Economic Diplomacy and the APEC Agenda held at the Makati Diamond Residences on 27 August 2015.
The forum, which was organized by the Griffith Asia Institute of the Griffith University, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), and APEC Study Center Consortium, was attended by renowned individuals from the government sector and academe such as Prof. Paul Hutchcroft of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, Dr. Myrna Austria from the De La Salle University, Dr. Denis Hew from the APEC Policy Support Unit, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, Dr. Erlinda Medalla from the Philippine APEC Study Center Network, Dr. Mario de los Reyes from the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning, and Atty. Raphael Lotilla.
Deputy Director-General Amador discussed the deepening political and security relations between the Philippines and Australia in his lecture “Australia-Philippines Economic Partnership in the Asia Pacific: Prospects and Challenges.” He also expounded on the role of the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) in the expansion of existing defense programs such as the Maritime Training Activity LUMBAS and the Coast Watch South system.
Dr. David Dutton, the Deputy Head of Mission of the Australian Embassy Philippines, emphasized that economic diplomacy is on top of Australia’s bilateral agenda with the Philippines and that the partnership between the two countries could still be further developed. Prof. Hutchcroft also supported this statement by saying that the partnership between Philippines and Australia is undervalued despite shared commitment to democratic values, healthy trade and investment linkages and increasing people to people relations.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for International Economic Relations Laura Q. del Rosario, who is also a former Director of the Foreign Service Institute, gave the keynote address. She stated that Australia has been a potent force for change in the region. In terms of regulatory and structural reform, the Philippines can learn a lot from Australia. In the case of the Philippines, reform can be focused on the services side, where it has an advantage.
The forum was also attended by representatives from the academe, government, and civil society.