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Thursday, November 30, 2023

PBBM: Asia offers ‘exciting opportunities’ for Europe

It is prudent that Europe considers the “exciting” opportunities Asia has to offer, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Wednesday.

Mr. Marcos made the remark after the new Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Nicolas Brühl presented his credentials in a ceremony at Malacañan Palace in Manila.

The President expressed hope that European countries would see the potential of Southeast Asia and the whole of Asia.

He stressed that he, along with his fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders, have come together to strengthen the region’s economic systems and address its weaknesses during the pandemic.

“We’re all trying to learn the lessons that the pandemic brought with it,” Mr. Marcos said during his meeting with Brühl, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office in a news release on Thursday.

“I think it is actually wise in terms of European countries, Switzerland included, to look to ASEAN, to look to Asia. Although there are other geopolitical disturbances, shall we say, but the opportunities are quite exciting,” he added.

Mr. Marcos said the post-pandemic scenario presents a great opportunity for greater collaboration with the Philippines, stressing that the country now understands “how the world works.”

The world does not work the same way that it did in 2019, or before the pandemic happened, Mr. Marcos said, adding that it is “faring differently.”

“And so that’s why I always value partnerships and alliances and agreements between countries. And I think… [with] Switzerland that has always gone very smoothly, let’s hope that it continues in that direction,” Mr. Marcos told the Swiss ambassador.

Brühl agreed with Mr. Marcos, saying that the Asian economy is recovering well compared to other parts of the world.

He noted that the Swiss Foreign Ministry’s Southeast Asia strategy at the start of the year proves that the region is of utmost importance and could be a partner in the future.

The Philippines and Switzerland celebrated 65 years of diplomatic relations in January 2022.

Brühl said last year’s 65th-year celebration of bilateral relations between the two nations is “already a good start”.

As of 2021, Switzerland ranked as the Philippines’ 26th biggest trading partner, 17th largest export market, and 29th biggest import supplier.

The Philippines and Switzerland continue to maximize the benefits of the Philippines–European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement (PH-EFTA-FTA).

The EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Philippines in Bern, Switzerland on April 28, 2016.

The EFTA-Philippines FTA entered into force on June 1, 2018 for the Philippines, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland and on Jan. 1, 2020 for Iceland.

The FTA covers trade in goods, trade in services, investment, competition, the protection of intellectual property rights, government procurement, and trade and sustainable development.

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