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Australia interested in expanding education links, agri trade with southern Philippines

BW FILE PHOTO/MAYA M. PADILLO

By Maya M. Padillo, Reporter

AUSTRALIAN educational institutions and private companies are being encouraged to pursue opportunities in Davao City and other parts of the southern Philippines, according to Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyung Yu.

In an interview during a visit to Davao last week, Ms. Yu said some linkages that can be built on, citing Australian scholarship programs and ties with the durian and cacao industries.

“I met with the president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and we talked about how wonderful it would be to have some Australian universities and providers coming into Davao City… and also to invite education services,” she said.

She noted that there are 300 Filipinos from Davao City and another 300 from other parts of Mindanao who have either studied in Australia or received scholarship grants for in-country programs.

The people-to-people link is the biggest pillar of cooperation between Davao City and Australia, she said.

In agriculture, Ms. Yu said durian exports to Australia have growth potential due to the high demand.

“The one that goes to Australia is the Puyat variety and I think it is just a matter of slowly looking up other types as well,” she said.

“That is a very long process in Australia as well as in other countries because of biodiversity and quarantine, market processes can be a bit time-consuming but once you pass that then it’s a new market to new types of durian,” Ms. Yu added. 

One of her stops during her visit was the Malagos Chocolate Farm House owned by the Puentespinas, noting that “the family are among the Australia-supported program grantees.” 

Ms. Yu was in Davao City for the Gather22: People and Planet for Sustainable Futures, an exhibit of enterprises and projects on sustainability organized by the Australian Embassy and the Australian Global Alumni in the Philippines.

“Perfect time because Christmas time is upon us and they are selling amazing products that are really innovative and environmentally friendly that can achieve profitability and sustainability,” she said.

Ms. Yu said the Philippines is the fifth biggest recipient of Australia’s development programs, with Mindanao getting the biggest share. These are in the areas of education, humanitarian response, disaster resilience, peace initiatives, and health services, among others.

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