By Monsi A. Serrano
More than the meatballs, shrimp sandwiches, cheese, Swedish sandwich cakes, and more, the celebration of Team Sweden in the Philippines, marked a significant milestone — that of its 500th anniversary as an independent kingdom and nation.
Speaking during the celebration of Swedish National Day, Her Excellency Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Annika Thunborg took pride in the unique characteristics of Sweden as a country that espouses openness, inclusion, innovation, sustainability, and the spirit of collaboration.
The ambassador also celebrated the longstanding friendship between Sweden and the Philippines, and highlighted the remarkable contributions of Swedish companies to fostering this relationship.
These Swedish enterprises include H&M, renowned for its high-quality styles and commitment to sustainability; IKEA with its record-breaking flagship store opened in 2021, and the likes of SAAB, Scania Trucks and Buses, Transcom, Atlas Copco, Volvo Cars, Volvo Buses, Trucks and Construction Equipment, Electrolux, Swedish Match, Ericsson, Retail Associates, Hitachi Energy, ABB, SKF, and Tetra Pak, among other notable names.
“While our countries are located on opposite sides of the world, despite the great geographical distance, there is plenty that binds us together and many commonalities between our regions,” the ambassador said.
“Every year our relationship strengthens and deepens, and the recent visit to the Philippines by the Swedish Minister of Trade Johan Forssell is just one of the latest testaments to this,” she added.
To foster understanding between the two nations, Amb. Thunborg mentioned in her speech four priorities of Sweden: security and unity; competitiveness; the green and energy transition; and democratic values and the rule of law.
These have been key to Sweden’s journey over the last century from one of the poorest countries in Europe to a prosperous welfare state with many internationally renowned companies and innovative startups. Some of them are the Swedish embassy’s corporate and advocacy partners.
With Sweden now holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first half of the year amid globally challenging times, such as continued Russian aggression against Ukraine, climate change and economic difficulties, Sweden intends to engage more with the Philippines and support the need for safe and secure borders to build socially and economically sustainable societies.
For her part, Amb. Thunborg pressed on the need to respect the rule of law and the international rules-based system to preserve our planet for future generations. “We need the green transition to build peace and stability. Everything is connected,” she said.
This is an area in which Sweden has a lot to offer — from security and defense cooperation, as well as health education and capacity building, to retail and design, telecommunications, sustainable transport, and green industry and energy.
Thunborg said the Swedish government continues to collaborate with the Philippine government on such efforts, citing the recent hosting of a business forum on energy transmission and efficiency as one example.
Dubbed as “Green Transition,” the forum was staged in partnership with the Department of Energy and discussed how Philippine energy efficiency can materialize through partnerships with Swedish companies.
The Swedish ambassador, in closing, expressed her gratitude to her dedicated team and encouraged attendees to seize the opportunity to foster new connections, stating: “Let this evening be an opportunity for you to make new and enhanced connections as a testament to the ever-increasing, long-standing, and sustainable ties between our two countries.”
Through collaboration and building on the Swedish model of success, which emphasizes partnerships across sectors, Sweden has transformed from a struggling nation to a prosperous welfare state with globally recognized companies and innovative startups.
The ambassador’s remarks underscored the importance of working together to address challenges and highlighted the strong and enduring bond between Sweden and the Philippines.