MANILA – Trade relations between the Philippines and Spain in the areas of transportation, education technology and renewable energy are flourishing and fruitful, Spain’s economic attaché said.
Pedro Pascual of the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Spain in Manila cited the recent Philippines-Spain Multilateral Partnership Meetings organized by Ministerio de Economia, Industria y Competitividad (Economic and Commercial Office of Spain) and the Espaňa Exportacion e Inversiones (ICEX) which was held at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City on November 21-22.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Pascual said the objective of the event is to establish partnerships between Spanish companies and Filipino companies to target the multilateral business opportunities that each country has to offer.
“It’s a gateway for our companies to enter into this kind of business which has a very special complexity, not only the countries but the institution as well,” Pascual said.
From an institutional point of view, he noted that the biggest success has been the attendance of 34 companies, the largest Spanish commercial delegation ever in the Philippines and the different Filipino agencies that have participated in the seminars.
Riding on the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, the multilateral meetings focused on infrastructure particularly in the transportation sector, which is an important component for progress.
A roundtable discussion on transport solutions was presented by the Spanish Railway Association (MAFEX) in relation to the planned Metro Manila Subway System, and other railway projects including the proposed Mindanao Railway System.
On the energy sector, solutions for off-grid electrification using solar, hydro and wind systems were presented by IDOM, Gamma Solutions and Tecnicas Reunidas.
For the water sector, Spanish companies Urbaser presented solutions on waste water treatment; Inerco presented pollutants dispersion to reduce environmental impact and Adasa presented digitalization of water security for sustainable communities.
“It is true that the energy policy is not promoting that much RE as we would wish but we understand that RE will play a role in the mix. Some of the leading RE companies are Spanish so we have a lot to offer in this field,” Pascual said.
“We have as well some companies are interested in bringing models of hybrid combinations for small grid solutions very suitable for remote locations to give electricity to rural areas which I believe is a very important in some parts of the Philippines,” he added.
While Pascual said he was not at liberty to discuss details of actual deals that have resulted from the meetings, he indicated though that some of the meetings with local businesses were exploratory or were follow-ups, business-to-business agreements were made during the two-day multilateral talks.
“In a general sense, participants were aware that there are huge opportunities in the Philippine market. The build, build, build program is taking some speed and they feel that there is a much bigger interest among them including Filipinos to see that things are moving,” Pascual said.
On the other hand, he noted that there are some difficulties or restrictions that make business complicated, such as restrictions to foreign direct investment.
“If you regard the bilateral figures that we have, there is really a huge opportunity for Filipino companies and we witnessed for example the first 8 months of 2017 in exports from the Philippines to Spain have increased 30 percent while exports from Spain to the Philippines grew only by 24 percent. This is a huge increase in our bilateral trade,” Pascual said.
He said the multilateral talks were a great success and that he is hopeful that this is not a one-off event.
“This has been maybe a first date but we are really hoping to have more. The Philippines is one of the tributaries in our strategy and definitely we will be coming more often and establishing better and wider relationship with the Philippines,” Pascual said. (PNA)