Sweden has reopened its embassy in Manila eight years after the global financial crisis that forced it to close down, paving the way for the European country to consider making more investments in the Philippines.
“It had nothing to do with the Philippines. It is our difficulty,” said Harald Fries, Swedish ambassador to the Philippines.
Sweden closed its embassy in Manila eight years ago because of the financial crunch caused by the global financial crisis.
Swedish Minister of Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg said the reopening of the embassy is part of his country’s strategy to make its presence felt in emerging markets in Southeast Asia, with the Philippines seen as a vital part of the region.
The increase of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the last few years, including the nearly 7.0-percent growth in the last two quarters also caught the attention of the Swedish government and businessmen.
Ylva Berg, president and chief executive officer of Business Sweden, said the high education level of young Filipinos made the Philippines interesting to them.
Elisabeth Somp, head of media relations of Business Sweden, said Sweden is “a very good match to what the Philippine society is looking for right now.”
She said the Swedish government has three priorities in mind: infrastructure and transportation; information and computer technology; and defense and security, where they believe they have a comparative advantage.
Also, Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer based in Sweden, will open new stores in Philippines and H&M, an international clothing-retail company, will expand its operations.
During their dialogue with Philippine officials, Berg said they discussed plans for the establishment of a new airport, railways and harbors, as the Duterte administration eyes increased spending for infrastructure and transportation.
In the area of defense, Fries said Sweden can sell security systems but not firearms to the Philippines.
However, “Sweden has no collaboration with the Philippine government when it comes to defense,” said Damberg.
Sweden can also offer air and maritime surveillance systems that would be useful for an archipelago like the Philippines, Fries said.