Spain is interested in strengthening its trade relations with the Philippines, which it sees as an investment hub for Spanish companies that are keen to invest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
“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,” said Spanish Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who is leading a 50-man business delegation to the country.
Garcia-Margallo and his delegation attended a Makati Business Club (MBC) event entitled “Spain and the Philippines: Building bridges to face new challenges.”
“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 make this kind of change hand in hand with Philippine friends. And this is the best way to introduce our companies in this very wonderful and promising market,” Garcia-Margallo said.
Peter Angelo Perfecto, MBC executive director, said Spain is looking at the Philippines as a potential hub “because we have historical links, and then it is very easy to work with the Philippine business community, we have a very strong private sector and apparently now under the current government there is better governance.”
“Given that we have already an Asean Economic Community (AEC), you can just be strong in one country and you have all the Asean” to trade with, he added.
The MBC has been working with other countries, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and other business groups in other countries, in promoting bilateral trade.
The Spanish business delegation, made up of some of the largest organizations in Spain, is looking for local partners like the Ayala group.
On the part of the Philippines, Perfecto said the country is looking to attract Spanish capital to help revive the country’s manufacturing, construction and logistics, tourism and agribusiness.
“We are hoping to entice them to invest in Philippine tourism, because they also have a strong tourism industry in Spain from whom we can learn much, a lot of technology that can be transferred, but definitely infrastructure is the strongest point,” Perfecto said.
The highlight of the event was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) among the MBC and the High Council of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Navigation of Spain, and the Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain to foster economic, commercial and technological cooperation between the two nations.
Spain is the fourth largest economy in the euro zone, the fifth largest in the European Union, and the world’s thirteenth largest economy by gross domestic product.
It is the eleventh largest investor with $640.3 billion in foreign direct investment stock abroad, or three percent of global investments. It is also the world’s second largest investor in Latin America, next only to the United States.