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Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez on Monday said the city government is mapping out a sister city agreement with Darwin City in Australia’s Northern Territory.

“We’re in the process of our sister city agreement with Darwin. It is now with the City Council for their approval,” he said in a press briefing.

Benitez met with the Australian Embassy deputy head of mission, Dr. Moya Collett, at the Government Center Monday, as she is in the city for a two-day visit to explore trade and investment opportunities and cultural exchanges.

He was joined by Councilors Vladimir Gonzales, Jason Villarosa, Claudio Jesus Puentevella, Simplicia Distrito and Celia Flor.

Benitez said the initial collaboration with Darwin City would be in education, technology and culture.

He said the Australian Embassy wants to increase investments and visits in Bacolod.

“We discussed a lot of things, among them possible trade missions between Australia and the City of Bacolod. They would like to increase the investment footprint coming from Australia. They said the Philippines is very near to Australia. In Southeast Asia, we are the closest country to Australia, but the investments are not comparable to the proximity,” he added.

Benitez said the focus of the Australian government is on agriculture. Since Bacolod is not mainly an agricultural area, the city can tap its neighboring local government units engaging in agriculture for possible initiatives.

He said Collett was “very impressed” with the MassKara Festival dancers who welcomed her at the Bacolod-Silay Airport.

“I told her there are several invitations for Bacolod from different parts of the world asking for MassKara dancers,” he added. (PNA)