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Visit to the Philippines.

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Joint Media release

with Minister for Trade, The Hon Simon Crean MP

8 October 2008

Visit to the Philippines The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, and the Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, will visit the Philippines from 8-10 October to attend the second Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting.

Both Ministers will also call on Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“The Philippines is an important regional friend and partner of Australia. Australia’s interests in the Philippines have grown considerably in recent years”, Mr Smith said.

Two way trade between Australia and the Philippines in 2007 was $2.5 billion.

Australian investment in the Philippines has increased from over $890 million in 2001 to over $1.5 billion in 2007, largely off the back of the growing interest of Australian mining companies in the Philippines’ rich minerals and energy deposits.

“Our commercial linkages are growing with many more opportunities arising to build on these links”, said Mr Crean.

“Australia and the Philippines worked closely together in helping to conclude the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement which has the potential to deliver significant commercial gains to both countries and more broadly throughout the region”, said Mr Crean.

Reflecting these opportunities, Mr Crean will be accompanied by an Australian business delegation comprising representatives of mining and engineering companies.

“Australia will also be looking to work closely with the Philippines in helping shape the region’s response to the global financial crisis - including through APEC and the East Asia Summit process. As fellow members of the Cairns Group we are also working together to continue progressing the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations”, said Mr Crean.

Australia’s development assistance program to the Philippines has more than doubled over the past three years to nearly $110 million in 2008-09. Australia plays a major role in improving education, rural development, infrastructure, economic governance and security in the Philippines.

Australia is the Philippines second largest defence co-operation partner. Both countries work together closely on regional counter terrorism efforts.

Australia also works with the Philippines Government and grassroots civil society organisations to promote interfaith activities in Manila and Mindanao.

Australia and the Philippines are co-sponsors of the Regional Interfaith Dialogue. Australia intends to upgrade to full member status its participation in the United Nations Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace, currently chaired by the Philippines.

Media inquiries: Mr Smith's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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