Sweden sees great potential in trade with PH
, 11 Nov. 2016

The government of Sweden sees “great” possibilities in trade with the Philippines as it reopened its Embassy in the country earlier this week.

“A year ago, the Prime Minister of Sweden decided to reopen the embassy and he did this in recognition of the very positive developments of this country, at least the economic developments,” Swedish Ambassador-designate to the Philippines Harald Fries said in a press briefing in Malacañan on Friday, November 11.

“And the Swedish government realized that there is a great potential in increased trade, investment, and people-to-people exchange between our countries,” he said.

Fries recalled that the Swedish embassy closed in Manila in 2008 as its government had to cut the cost and closed several embassies around the world due to financial reasons caused by the global financial crisis.

The Embassy official said the Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg, headed the “biggest business delegation ever to the Philippines” who also arrived earlier this week.

According to Fries, Damberg had “very constructive talks” with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

“The business representatives coming from Sweden had very fruitful meetings with the Philippine business counterparts and the Swedish delegation went back to Sweden, very optimistic and hopeful about coming business partnerships with Philippine business partners here,” Fries said, adding that businessmen had very positive comments on the Philippines.

He also cited the positive factors in the Philippines such as high growth rates; growing market; stable inflation; sound fiscal situation; and young talented, well-educated, and English-speaking population.

“So many of the fundamentals are right here for increasing business relations,” he said.

“And then with the new administration, I think there are reforms taken here which are positive for increased business relations,” he added.

The Swedish government, Fries said, welcomes “very much” the 10-point socioeconomic program of the Duterte administration, as well as President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-poverty programs.

“It’s good not only for the poor people but for the whole society, of course,” he said.

Fries, however, noted that they feel the trade between Sweden and Philippines is “much too low.”

“So there’s a great potential for enhanced trade and investment relations between our two countries,” he noted.

Fries said he hopes to increase people-to-people relations, such as in the tourism sector, in academic or student exchange, and in the exchange of professionals.

In the same briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced that Malaysian investors are considering setting up palm oil plantations in Mindanao and Palawan.

He said the businessmen initially plan to develop about 80,000 hectares but are considering expanding to about 300,000 hectares.

“Malaysia has 63 million dollars in investments in the Philippines, but with the strengthening of ties, we expect more investments,” he said.

On the other hand, according to Abella, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia has said the pivot to China was a preparation for the new presidency in the US “whose protectionist policies are expected to, or may affect, remittances from abroad.”

“But Secretary Pernia said that we do have a safety net which the President seems to have foreseen,” Abella said. “However, we do look forward to better relationships with all nations.”

Meanwhile, the Palace official said that the Freedom of Information Executive Order which grants public access to information of government transactions will take effect on November 25.

“I would like to take note that the President is taking the initiative to open up the Executive branch to FOI,” he said.PND