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The Philippines and China Agree to Advance Oil and Gas Cooperation

by Philippine Resources - January 21, 2021

Both the Philippines and China have agreed to advance Oil and Gas cooperation. This was according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

“the South China Sea issue is just a lone pebble in the broad avenue of bilateral relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

“The two sides should by no means allow the dispute, which only accounts for one per cent of overall relations, to affect the rest 99 per cent,” she added. “Both agreed to advance oil and gas cooperation and to look for a solution in keeping with the times to address the difficulties left over from history,” Hua said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said, “Secretary Locsin and Minister Wang Yi confirmed that differences on contentious maritime issues do not represent the entirety of the Philippines-China bilateral relationship,” it said. “Both sides renewed their commitment to mutual respect, managing issues peacefully and in accordance with international law, and exploring areas for possible cooperation.”



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Economic

Philippine Resources - May 29, 2019

Australian Embassy Hosts the Annual Journalists’ Reception

By Marcelle P. VillegasEvery year, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines hosts the Annual Journalists’ Reception with a goal to provide a dialogue and interaction between Australian companies in the Philippines and the local media. Last 4th April 2019, the event was held at the residence of the Australian Ambassador in Makati City.Present during the Reception were several business executives from various Australian companies representing banking, finance, mining, shipbuilding, telecommunication, education sector and more. The first part of the Annual Journalists’ Reception was a business forum that was led by Ms Elodie Journet who is the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner - Austrade. Other representatives from the Australian Embassy in the Philippines were Mr Mat Kimberley (Deputy Head of Missions), Ms Clare Duffield (Counsellor - Political and Public Diplomacy), Ms Nardia Simpson (Counsellor - Economic), Ms Kerrie Anderson (Counsellor - Development), Grp Capt. Ian Goold, CSC (Defence Attache), Det. Supt. Richard Stanford, APM (Senior Liaison Officer - AFP), Ms Elizabeth Carter (Counsellor and Chief Migration Officer), Ms Cristina Mojica (Counsellor and Chief Migration Officer), and Ms Jenni McEwin (First Secretary Economic).The speakers during the forum were Ms Anna Green (CEO, ANZ Bank Phils.), Mr Wayne Murray (President, Austal), Mikhail Jao (Marketing Manager, IDP Education Phils. Office), Eric Yaptangco (Division Director, Macquarie Phils.), Bradley Norman (Country Director, OceanaGold Phils.), Mark Woolfrey (Exec. GM, QBE Insurance), Brett McPhee (GM, Site Skills Training Phils.), Russell Claxton (CEO, TWPS), and Mark Richardson (VP, TWPS). Other companies that participated were Crone, GHD, Greenstone, Qantas, and Telstra.The discussion was centered on how Australian companies are helping the Philippines in economic development and other aspects like defence, education, mining, environment and more. Mr Wayne Murray, President and GM of Austal Philippines stated that they are working with the Philippine Navy and looking into a contract to build and provide six offshore patrol vessels (OPVs). This is in relation to the August 2018 Nikkei report that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that they would be sourcing six OPVs from Austal. “Because it’s an offshore patrol vessel, as the name implies, it’s offshore, but it’s not going to be for international use. It’s for inter-island protection,” according to Mr Murray. He noted that OPVs can be used in travelling in areas like Benham Rise and the Spratly Islands. [1]Philippine Resources Journal interviewed Austrade’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Ms Elodie Journet about how Australia is helping the mining sector in the Philippines given that the industry has been under a lot of setbacks and is strongly contradicted by anti-mining lobbyists. We also asked her about her views about mining in general. Ms Journet said, “We [Australia], truly believe in sustainable mining. As a country, we have proven that you can actually have sustainable mining and we can have mining in environment. We've had very strong standards as well to it, to ensure that you can actually operate and protect the environment as well. For that, we've been very keen on looking at collaborating with the Philippine government and to ensure that we share our knowledge, share our standards, share also some of our latest technologies.” She adds, “We've got a very strong industry around mining, technology, equipment and services, so we've got a whole range of companies in Australia that are very keen on coming to the Philippines and collaborating as well.” With regards to best practices in mining, she states, “You've already got some really good mining operations here in the Philippines that had been winning awards as well in terms of environmental protection. Thus, I think it is just a matter of also being able to highlight some of those successes and also continue to build on ensuring that in order to protect the environment further.” What were the measures done by Australia in order to help the Philippine mining industry? Ms Journet said, “We have taken delegations from DENR to Australia. Every year, we host the International Mining Conference in Melbourne. The conference is all about presenting some of the latest techniques and sharing of information. We took the delegation from DENR there to be able to see some of our operations in Australia.”“There are many areas in Australia that are successful mining operations and right next to it you have great agricultural land. We've got great tourism industries as well so it's a great way to actually look at how can you contribute to the community as well. Indeed, mining and agriculture can co-exist.” She added, “I think the Philippines has already got some great guidelines in mining. It is really looking at how do you help the industry follow some of the implementation as well. We are happy to partner with the Philippines in that way.” This year’s Journalists’ Reception is the first one with the new Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Steven J. Robinson AO. Although this event was not his first time to have a gathering at his residence, the Annual Journalists’ Reception this year is somehow one of the first instances when he faced a wider range of journalists from various media outlets, publications and TV networks. During an open forum with him, the Ambassador eloquently answered a battery of questions from his guests that touched many subject matters about politics, agriculture, economics, defence, his first encounter with the Philippine President, Australia’s standing about the South China Sea dispute, his impression of the Philippines, and more.Ambassador Robinson arrived here in the Philippines early in January 2019, two weeks before the celebration of Australia Day (24 January 2019). During the Annual Journalists’ Reception, he mentioned that one of the first things he did as ambassador was to visit Marawi in order to continue the work that was endorsed to him by the former Australian Ambassador, Honourable Amanda Gorely. As of October 2018, Australia increased their support to Marawi’s recovery and rehabilitation to Php975 million (AUD25 million). Australia’s effort aims to bring long-term peace and stability in the southern Philippines following the siege of Marawi City in May - October 2017. [2] The Ambassador shared that his first visit to the Philippines was around 40 years ago during his college years. “At that time I was struck by the archipelago’s natural beauty, I experienced the warmth of the Filipino people and felt the dynamic energy of the cities of Manila, Cebu and Zamboanga. It seized my attention and I have returned many times over the intervening years. So it is a great honour and a privilege to return here now as Australia’s new Ambassador to the Philippines.” [3]Ambassador Robinson is a senior career officer (Deputy Secretary level) in the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio. In 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for service to Australia’s international interests through a significant and sustained contribution”. The Ambassador holds a BA (Hons) and Diploma in Education from the University of Sydney. - - -References:[1] Mogato, Anna Gabriela A. (8 April 2019). “Australian firm eyes Philippine Navy contract for patrol vessels”. Rappler.[2] “Australia Increases Support to PHP 975 Million For Marawi Recovery”Retrieved from https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/medrel181026.html [3] H.E. Steven J. Robinson’s speech during Australia Day Celebration, 24 January 2019Retrived from https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/speech20190124.html

Economic

Philippine Resources - January 20, 2021

Dominguez Says Economy May Soon Recover

The economy of the Philippines may soon recover this year.According to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, this is in part due to business reopening and mass transportation increasing. “We expect to see additional improvements in the last quarter of 2020 as we have been progressively reopening businesses and accessibility to mass transportation,” Dominguez said. In the last year, the pandemic has cost Metro Manila huge losses such as P2.1 billion in wages, although the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) has eased this blow a bit. “To be completely honest, some of the jobs lost may never return,” Dominguez said. “The pandemic, however, provided us with the opportunity to accelerate our shift to digitalization in order to meet the demands of the emerging new economy. This will create new jobs that will require new skills.”Dominguez added that among the measures that can lift the economy up is the enactment of the P4.506 trillion national budget and the extension of the validity of the Bayanihan 2 and the 2020 appropriations. Other measures included the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill (which would allow banks to offload their souring loans and assets) and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) bill (which would provide businesses with the biggest economic stimulus package). Another economic stimulus package is the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill that aims to form a special holding company to have government financial institutions to infuse equity.

Economic

Philippine Resources - December 21, 2020

Nickel, EVS moving forward together

Philippine Nickel Industry Association president Dante Bravo speaks about the role of nickel in growing the e-vehicle industry at the 7th Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit convened by the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines. Bravo says the Nickel Industry is poised to supply the growing demand for nickel in lithium ion batteries powering electric vehicles.  The summit, held at MoA SMX, aims to push EVs and its related industries as drivers of sustainable growth. Smartmatic vowed to continue providing a secure voting technology and transparent election system to the Philippines as the government begins selecting a new automated election system (AES).“Smartmatic has been a leader in providing an efficient, secure and transparent automated election system in many counties and in the Philippines. We want to continue this and strengthen our partnership with the government in providing a secure, faster, and credible election system,” said Ramaakanth Sake, president of Smartmatic Asia-Pacific.On 15 July, Smartmatic joined in the AES Technology Fair of the Department of Department of Information and Communications Technology, which allow the various local and global providers to present their concept or prototype of an alternative AES, which may be used at the 2022 national and local elections.At the tech fair, Smartmatic presented its new direct recording electronic voting machines, which utilize a touchscreen to eliminate the need for paper ballots and reduce the likelihood of read errors. According to Smartmatic, the touchscreen would need a voter’s fingerprint before it can be used.The system gives real-time feedback in case of overvoting, so the voters may change their ballot before casting the vote. As per the requirements of the Commission on Elections the machine will print out a receipt, which can then be used as reference in case a manual recount is needed.Source: https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2019/07/18/briefs-nickel-evs-moving-forward-together/?fbclid=IwAR3Lv__unzg0UVTGSY_LXRmurdnIWTHvwlGFoGMqSjL-fGo5hdFz1ZMKcis

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Mining

Philippine Resources - April 06, 2021

Philippines Unlikely to Fulfill China's Nickel Ore Requirements

Despite the resumption of many mining operations in the region, the Philippines is unlikely to fulfill China's nickel ore requirements, according to an S&P report. Philippine mined nickel production is expected to increase over the next five years, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence industry survey, as producers aim to satisfy Chinese nickel ore demand. However, S&P analysts said, “We believe that legislation will remain a major hurdle for restarts and new projects, therefore the Philippines will be unable to meet Chinese nickel ore demand over our forecast period.” Three nickel mines in the world that had been closed due to the coronavirus disease in 2019 were reopened in 2020 when the government turned to the mining industry to help offset the economic effects of the disease (Covid-19). These restarts and demand from current mining facilities, according to foreign analysts, are expected to raise Philippine mined nickel output from 340,000 tonnes in 2020 to 550,000 tonnes in 2025. “However, we believe that existing environmental restrictions on Philippine mining will limit the scope for further mine restarts or additional production from new mining projects in the medium term,” S&P analysts said. “This will prevent the Philippines from meeting China’s nickel ore requirements in Indonesia’s absence, driving Chinese primary output down from an estimated 715,000 tonnes in 2020 to 490,000 tonnes in 2025.” The Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) previously reported that the country's nickel export value increased by P1 billion from January to September 2020, compared to P24 billion in the same timeframe last year. According to a survey from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Philippine nickel industry produced 18.5 million dry metric tons (DMT) in 2020, down 14% from the previous year's 21.6 million DMT production. MGB stated that the lower output was primarily due to the increased community quarantine imposed by Covid-19 from March to May 2020, during which mineral product movement was restricted across the world. The increased performance in export value for the nickel industry, according to PNIA President Dante Bravo, was primarily motivated by demand increases in nickel prices. China's consistent demand boosted the world nickel price in 2020.

Economic

Philippine Resources - April 06, 2021

Forecasts for PH Development in 2021 Have Been Reduced

Fitch Solutions, a London-based think tank, has slashed its economic growth forecast for the Philippines this year, citing the return to tough lockdown measures in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, which is expected to dampen domestic investment in the short term. Fitch Solutions now expects the Philippines' actual gross domestic product (GDP) to rise by 5.8% this year, down from the initial estimate of 7.6%, due to the government's capital spending push being derailed. “The surge in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines in March and lockdown measures imposed reflect the continued risks to the archipelago’s economic outlook,” the think tank said in a research note dated April 1. The government has reimposed curfew policies in Metro Manila and neighbouring provinces, affecting an unprecedented 24 million inhabitants, as it struggles to control the pandemic. Given the continuing increase in cases and the long-term effect on hospital capacity, Fitch Solutions expects the lockout steps to be extended beyond two weeks. “The likelihood of further outbreaks in other regions remains high and given the slow vaccination rollout in the country (less than 1 per cent of the population has been vaccinated as of end-March) we believe the Philippines’ recovery will continue to be hampered by the pandemic,” Fitch Solutions said. Regional outlook The think tank went on to say that its new estimate of 5.8% also had downside risks. It stated that its forecast for a moderate recovery this year was based on the assumption that domestic demand would steadily improve and the government's investment plans would be realized, resulting in a sharp increase in domestic activity. “However, the slow vaccine rollout and recurrent difficulties in containing outbreaks look set to stall the recovery further,” it noted. A survey of economists in the Asean-5 and India found that the Philippines' growth projection was 5.2 per cent, down from 5.9 per cent in the previous poll last December. Although Asian countries that carried out mass vaccination earlier, such as India, Indonesia, and Singapore, saw their near-term economic prospects boost, gradual inoculation tempered economists' growth aspirations for the Philippines, according to a poll released on Monday by the think tank Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER). Economists following the Philippines predicted that GDP will contract by 3.8 per cent year on year in the first quarter, up from 0.7 per cent a year before. GDP will rise 8.4% year over year in the second quarter, 5.6 per cent in the third quarter, and 4.5 per cent in the fourth quarter due to base effects from last year's low. Malaysia and Thailand, including the Philippines, have weaker growth forecasts for 2021. “Most economists see the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination as one of the most significant positive developments over the last three months and all three upward-trending countries have rolled out vaccinations relatively sooner. This may have improved economists’ outlooks. Delays in vaccination and the spread of COVID-19 variants are listed as factors that might damage the economies,” JCER said. Top concerns Faster dissemination of COVID-19 variants and delayed vaccination, or "corona shock," were described as top economic issues in the Philippines, but higher inflation was also identified as a major threat to the country's recovery from the pandemic-induced recession. According to analysts, headline inflation will average 4.5 per cent in the first quarter, 4.8 per cent in the second, 4.7 per cent in the third, and 4.2 per cent in the fourth quarter, averaging 4.5 per cent in 2021, way above the target range of 2-4 per cent. With a 6.1 per cent increase, Singapore is forecast to lead economic growth in the Asean-5 this year, led by Malaysia's 5.3 per cent and Philippines' 5.2 per cent. According to the JCER report, India will rise at a higher rate of 11.2 per cent in 2021. Economists predicted that the Philippines' average GDP growth will be 6% in 2022, up from 5.8% in December but still below the government's goal.

Construction

Philippine Resources - April 06, 2021

Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Expected to Open in June 2021

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is concentrating not only on the civil work’s development of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Project but also on keeping the workplace secure and clean. DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar said, "that at 86 per cent and with just a few more days to fully complete the new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, we are mindful that a single case of COVID-19 in the project can lead to an interruption, if not total work stoppage" Secretary Villar recently issued revised guidelines in Department Order #30 for the implementation of ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ infrastructure projects, both public and private, during the public health crisis. "Although the bridge project is being rushed for completion in June 2021, it is critical that construction firms be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with the increased risk of illness from COVID-19," Secretary Villar added.  Emil K. Sadain, Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations, and UPMO Roads Management Cluster 1 Project Manager Benjamin Bautista checked the physical progress of the bridge project on Monday, April 5, 2021, and the contractor's compliance with protocols that cover prevention, detection, and rapid response to maintain construction work continuity as workers who have been living in the barracks resume work after the Lenten season. “Let’s get to work healthy to get the job done”, Undersecretary Sadain reminded the contractor China Road and Bridge Corporation citing the current health situation, particularly in the NCR Plus bubble.   In his report to Secretary Villar, Undersecretary Sadain reported that the project is more than 12% ahead of time, having completed all bridge substructure works for abutments A and B on both sides and piers of the Makati approach bridge; the V-shaped piers for the Main Bridge; concrete box girder for the approach bridge; and the V-shaped piers for the Main Bridg; and two (2) prestressed concrete box girder segments using the traditional approach. Post-tensioning and grouting works, formworks and rebar installation for the closure section in the side spans, formworks installation for the 2-meter closure section in the main bridge span, and preparatory works for approach road construction on both sides are now the focus of bridge construction activities. The new 506-linear meter bridge, funded by China and introduced by the DPWH UPMO - Roads Management Cluster 1 (Bilateral), would have a diameter of 21.65 meters, capable of four (4) lanes instead of two (2), and three-meter sidewalks on both sides. The P1.46 billion new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, which is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2021, will handle 50,000 vehicles a day and minimize travel time between Mandaluyong and Makati to 12 minutes. The bridge will connect Estrella Street in Makati to Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong, helping to relieve traffic congestion on EDSA by providing an alternative route for motorists.

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