Friday , 19 April 2024

Spanish trade mission backs growth agenda

A top-level Spanish delegation which visited Davao City last week has expressed Spain’s support for President Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda and lauded his ongoing peace initiatives with insurgent groups as well as his strong campaign against illegal drugs.

In a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the delegation led by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ignacio Ybanez Rubio also relayed Spain’s interest in investing in Philippine projects on energy, infrastructure, and telecommunications as part of the country’s greater engagement with the Philippines and the rest of Asia.

Ybanez said that Spain would want to be more engaged in Asia and stressed that “this is a very clear determination from the government as a whole and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry Commerce.”

The members of the delegation said they understood “very deeply” the Philippines’ concerns. “You can count on us on whatever you need,” Ybanez said.

They said Spain is “more than ready to cooperate with the Philippines” on the implementation of its big-ticket infrastructure projects, particularly in building railways and in the areas of transportation, energy and telecommunications.

The members of the delegation also informed Dominguez of Spain’s “great interest” in Mr. Duterte’s programs, particularly his war against illegal drugs.

“We listened very well on why he is doing that and how important it is to really combat drugs,” Ybanez said.

The Spanish delegation also expressed its support for the Philippines’ peace process with insurgent groups and the Duterte administration’s plan to promote regional autonomy.

Dominguez, in turn, explained to this visiting group the Duterte administration’s primary thrust in its 10-point socioeconomic agenda, which is the accelerated spending on infrastructure, human capital development and social protection in order to sustain high and inclusive growth.

He also informed the delegation that the three main goals of the Duterte administration are reducing poverty, promoting a law-abiding society, which includes winning the war against illegal drugs, and developing a country that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors.

Dominguez said that to bring the benefits of high economic growth to areas outside Metro Manila, the government must dramatically increase its spending on power, agricultural productivity, roads, airports and connectivity, which amounts to infrastructure investments of $180 billion over the next six years.

“The government is also allocating a huge amount of money to education and other social services,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez also lauded the VII Tribuna Espana-Filipinas held at the Marco Polo Hotel, for its “very unique” and multifaceted character as compared to other business or cultural events focused on single-purpose meetings.

The Tribuna’s 8th edition held at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao brought together not only the business sectors of the Philippines and Spain, but their respective experts as well in the fields of academics, culture, tourism and sports.

Under the 2013-2016 Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation, the Philippines is the only priority country of Spain in Asia.

As of April this year, data from the National Economic and Development Authority show that on-going Spanish Official Development Assistance (ODA) of purely grants to the Philippines amounted to $29.93 million.

Also in the meeting with Dominguez were Spanish Ambassador to Manila Luis Antonio Calvo Castano; Emilio De Miguel Calabia, Executive Director for the Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Philippines of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Ramon Maria Moreno Gonzalez, Director General of Casa Asia, and Pedro Pascual Fernandez, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Spain.

The Philippine side was represented by Dominguez; Department of Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez; Jose Leviste, chair of the Philippine-Spanish Business Council; and George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Last September, in a meeting also with Dominguez in Manila, Ambassador Calvo relayed Spain’s support for the Philippine government’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda and congratulated the Duterte administration for coming up with a “progressive” and “on-point” tax reform program that aims to reduce personal and corporate income tax rates while raising fresh revenues to bankroll infrastructure projects and social protection programs for society’s most vulnerable sectors.

This time, Ybanez, on behalf of his delegation, expressed Spain’s interest in possibly participating in the government’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda.

Ybanez said the meeting here with Dominguez was “very important” for Spain because the Philippines is the country where they should have a strong “presence in Asia.”

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