(COTABATO CITY, September 5, 2017). The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has attracted interest from Australian investors wanting to invest in the region.
The good prospect for Australian business investments in ARMM came after its Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) joined in the recent Philippine Investment Mission and Roadshow to Australia led by the Board of Investments (BOI) – Manila under its Philippine Investment Promotion Plan (PIPP). The PIPP serves as the BOI’s investment programming platform composed of all investment promotion agencies. The investment promotion agencies made a pitch to Australian investors in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in the second week of August.
In his letter to lawyer, Ishak Mastura, RBOI chairman and managing head, Eduard Alcordo, the President of the Australia Philippines Business Council, wrote that there are at least four (4) prospective Australian investments in the ARMM:
1) On Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs): As per their presentation AIMS Financial Group (AIMS), a diversified financial services and investment group, active in the areas of mortgage lending, securitisation, investment banking, fund management, property investment, and high-tech investment wants to explore the feasibility of developing REITS in the country. To this end, Mr. Alcordo has asked one of its members and former Executive Director of Public Private Partnership Centre, Mr Raj Palacios to contact ARMM with the view of signing a letter of intent (LOI) with AIMS and First Pacific Capital Underwriters Pty. Ltd. (FPCU).
2) It was mentioned that a milk project might also be suitable for ARMM in which milk storage facilities will be put up in Mindanao, particularly ARMM since Mindanao is nearer to Australia than Luzon. The Sun Valley (HK) Group is the proponent since they run dairy farms in Australia.
3) On renewable electricity generation and green coal from Bana Grass and other biomass: FPCU and Solid Energy Technologies Pty. Ltd. (SET) are able to provide plantation seedlings of a new variety of Bana Grass and other energy fuels to parties interested in the fuel crop industry. Mr. Lionel Henderson, the Director of Agriculture of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the premier Australian Government funded research organization, was introduced to RBOI chairman Mastura. Accordingly, the CSIRO through FPCU would be interested to work with ARMM on this project if it has farmers with access to land, even land not suitable for rice or staple foods. There may even be assistance on funding and grants. As witnessed by the Philippine investment mission team to Australia, the SR Clean and Green Energy, an outfit whose owners are from Tawi-Tawi Province in the ARMM, signed a LOI to explore future collaborations during the team’s investment mission in Sydney.
4) Chicken Project: It is proposed that there are strong potential possibilities for chicken processing for export from ARMM, especially export of Halal chicken to the Muslim Southeast Asian countries and the Middle East, considering that Australia itself even if it is a non-Muslim majority country is a leading Halal exporter of beef to the Middle East and live cows to Indonesia. An economic size of this project is one (1) million chickens per week at a cost of Australian $100 million.
Reacting to the news of prospective Australian investors, ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman congratulated the RBOI for being able to get Australian investors interested in ARMM despite the ongoing Marawi crisis.
“The interest of Australian businessmen to invest in the ARMM is a clear vote of confidence in the stability of the region despite the ongoing Marawi crisis, which the security sector has effectively confined and contained to a small area,” said Hataman.
Recently, TierOne, Inc., a partly Australian-owned telecommunications company registered with RBOI its Php 3 billion investments in a third carrier for the region.
Australia is one of the biggest official development assistance donors to the ARMM funding in particular the basic educational needs of the region.
Australia also recently offered to train Philippine soldiers in urban warfare in view of the urban warfare terrain of Marawi City, which used to be the ARMM’s largest city, since Australia is the only country aside from the United States to have signed a Status of Forces Agreement with the Philippines.
The Australian government wants to help prevent Marawi City and its environs to become a safe haven for native transnational violent extremists returning to the region from the wars in Syria and Iraq.
September 6, 2017 @ 11:14