The ASEAN Ambassadors and Swedish Minister for Foreign Trade H.E. Ann Linde. (Photo credit -- Philippine Embassy , Oslo, Norway)
25 April 2019, Stockholm – Six ASEAN Ambassadors, representing the ASEAN Committee in Stockholm (ACS) in Stockholm, met on 25 April 2019 with H.E. Ann Linde, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Trade, with responsibility for Nordic Affairs. The ASC is chaired by H.E. Bagas Hapsoro, the Ambassador of Indonesia, and is composed of the Ambassadors of Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. H.E. Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia, Ambassador of the Philippines based in Oslo, Norway, joined her counterparts in meeting Minister Linde.
Minister Linde warmly greeted the ASEAN Ambassadors and expressed appreciation for the initiative of the ASC in engaging her in a dialogue. She affirmed that ASEAN is an important region and Sweden is determined to enhance cooperation with ASEAN, including within the framework of EU-ASEAN relations. She recalled the agreement of the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting held in January 2019 to upgrade ASEAN-EU relations to a strategic partnership. She noted the work towards a future ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement.
In his remarks on behalf of the ASC, Ambassador Hapsoro invited Sweden to further its cooperation with ASEAN, notably in the field of trade and investments, environmental protection, human resources development, and socio-cultural exchanges. He mentioned the opportunities for cooperation within the three ASEAN’s key economic areas, namely equipping ASEAN for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), enhancing ASEAN connectivity through the ASEAN Trade, Investment and Tourism Single Window, and enabling sustainable economic development in ASEAN.
Philippine Ambassador Batoon-Garcia said that ASEAN is pleased with the increasing interest of Sweden in intensifying its engagement and dialogue with ASEAN, a region of economic vibrancy. She cited the continuing impressive economic performance of the Philippines and its 6.2% GDP growth in 2018, which has been the average rate for the last 10 years. She affirmed the Philippines’ keen interest to increase exchanges in trade and investments with Sweden. She welcomed the recent decision of Business Sweden to increase its personnel complement in Manila and the recent announcement of the Swedish Ambassador to Manila Harald Fries that Sweden offers employment opportunities for Filipino software engineers and health care workers.
Noting the presence of more than 600 companies in Southeast Asian countries, ASEAN Ambassadors and Ministers believe that there remains great potential for increasing and strengthening two-way trade and investment flows between ASEAN and Sweden. Toward this end, the ASEAN Ambassadors and Minister Linde agreed to continue their dialogue in finding new areas to cooperate and learn from each other. END