President Benigno Aquino III told New Zealand investors that the Philippines is now “open for business” as he capped his state visit to country on Tuesday that saw the signing of three signed bilateral agreements aimed at strengthening ties between the two Pacific nations.

Mr. Aquino encouraged businessmen present at the Philippine-New Zealand Business Forum during his two-day state visit to invest in his country, highlighting the administration’s efforts to improve the Philippines’ investment climate. “These are exciting times in the Philippines, and now is the time to invest,” he said.

Mr. Aquino and Prime Minister John Key sealed three bilateral agreements on a working holiday scheme, defense cooperation and geothermal energy cooperation.

The working holiday scheme coincides with the issuance of temporary entry visas to New Zealand for those aged 18 to 30 as part of people-to-people exchanges that would “fix the very low awareness among Filipinos and Kiwis of each others’ culture, history and heritage as Pacific nations,” Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.

The meeting also concluded negotiations on geothermal energy cooperation, which Mr. Aquino says is an area of mutual interest to both countries. The deal paves the way for geothermal development between the two.

Citing a “shared history” of defense cooperation between the Philippines and New Zealand, a formal framework for dialogue and cooperation on defense issues was also signed.