Spain eyes PHL as gateway to Asia

By Kris M. Crismundo

MANILA, March 24 (PNA) — The Spanish government is considering the Philippines as the best country to introduce its business community in Asia as it is now recovering from financial crisis.

Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo Y Marfil said during the membership meeting of the Makati Business Club (MBC) Monday in Makati City that they want to expand their presence in the Asian market, particularly in Southeast Asia, by bringing in Spanish businesses here.

”I think that the Philippines is the best hub we can think of to introduce our companies, our economy in Asia. I hope that we start very soon… I have to admit that Spain is too late but we are here to recover the time we have lost and we are trying to do that hand-in-hand with Philippine friends to make this kind of change and this is the best way to introduce our companies in this very wonderful and promising market,” Garcia-Margallo stated.

He mentioned that Spain has undertaken huge fiscal reforms in order to recover its economy which was affected by the financial crisis in 2007.

He cited that because of the crisis, Spain went through indebtedness amounting to about 400 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Spain also had undergone deterioration of its real estate industry and its economic competitiveness.

In order to regain its robust economy, Spain wants to penetrate more in Asia through strengthening business relation with the Philippines.

”They’re really interested in strengthening the trade relation with the Philippines. One, they are looking at the Philippines because they said its quite easy to do business with Filipinos and with the Philippines,” MBC Executive Direct Peter Angelo Perfecto said.

”And, if they can make this their hub, they would be very happy to do so with the rest of ASEAN, given that we have the AEC (ASEAN Economic Community). Once you have the AEC, you can just be strong in one country and that’s it; you have all the ASEAN (member countries),” he explained.

Perfecto added that the Spanish government sees the Philippines as a potential link to the ASEAN market because of its established relation with the country, strong business sector, and better governance with the current administration.

Meanwhile, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed among MBC, the High Council of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Navigation of Spain (CSC) and the Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain (CEOE) in order for the two countries’ business sector work together in a long term basis.

The signed MOU intends the Philippines and Spain to:

Promote the inter-relation of the business communities interested in increasing trade between the Philippines and Spain;

Conduct research and study, perform intermediation and liaison, and advance recommendations to the respective governments in order to promote economic, commercial and technological cooperation between the Philippines and Spain;

Exchange information of interest, particularly on foreign trade relations, business opportunities, investment, and joint ventures, among others, for both sides to promote economic cooperation and strengthen mutual ties;

Promote trade economic missions in order to assist the mutual trade between both sides;

Encourage the participation of members in international exhibitions and trade fairs and other activities concerning the promotion and increase of trade cooperation between both sides;

Inform the Spanish Chamber of the Philippines and the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain in Manila of the development of activities of the two countries. (PNA)