Eight years after it was closed in 2008, the Embassy of Sweden in Manila is now reopening. A high-level inauguration ceremony headed by Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg, took place on November 8 in Del Rosario Law Centre, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. The reopening of the embassy marks a new era of a strengthened Sweden-Philippines relationship.
Also present at the ceremony were representatives of Department of Foreign Affairs, business moguls Jacob Wallenberg from Sweden and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, and top executives of Swedish corporations such as SAAB, Scania, Volvo Bus, Ericsson, Swedish Match, SEB, Transcom and IKEA. These executives are all in the Philippines as part of the biggest Swedish business delegation ever brought to the country. The delegation is headed by Minister Damberg and is organized by Business Sweden, the official organization mandated by the Swedish government to promote international business and investment.
This momentous inauguration event is the culmination of Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s promise last December 2015 to begin a deeper and enhanced commitment with the Philippines in the field of trade and people-to-people engagement in recognition of the astonishing economic development of the Philippines over the past several years.
Despite the absence of an embassy from 2008, Swedish presence has never left the Philippines. Sweden has continued to have consular presence in the form of honorary consulates in Manila and Cebu. There are already over 40 Swedish companies established in the country, with more and more coming in like IKEA and SAAB. During Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency served as a key partner to UNDP and provided rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance, and emergency relief. In 2014 and 2015, King Carl XVI Gustaf visited the country and extended Swedish support for disaster-stricken Tacloban.
A main priority of the new embassy is to enhance business relationships between the two countries and to introduce Sweden to the Philippines as a modern and innovative country that places great importance to environmental sustainability, democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law—all vital characteristics of sustainable development. Minister Damberg mentioned during his speech t the inauguration that “these are sentiments that the Filipino people share with Sweden.”
Minister Damberg also noted that Ambassador-designate Harald Fries is “a strong advocate and facilitator for the interest of Swedish-Philippine business endeavors and a devotee to the Philippine community, firmly rooted with both family friends in the country.”