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Sweden vows to deepen bilateral ties with Phl

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By Monsi A. Serrano

Sweden celebrated Swedish National Day and highlighted to deepen bilateral ties with the Philippines in key areas such as defense and security, industrial development, innovation, and healthcare.

Swedish Ambassador Annika Thunborg reiterated that the Philippines will remain Sweden’s strategic partner and will support the country in its goal for economic growth and quest for the rule of law amidst China’s unabated aggression.

“We support the Philippine Development Plan with the vision to improve the country’s economy and provide jobs to Filipinos,” Ambassador Thunborg said.

The lady envoy also revealed that there are around 40 Swedish companies doing business in the Philippines and she also brandished that Sweden is recognized as a global leader in innovation. Since 2016, when the Embassy reopened, Team Sweden — comprised of the Embassy of Sweden, trade and investment council Business Sweden, and Swedish private sector actors — has been actively collaborating with the Philippines in innovation and development. A few of its focus areas has been transportation, energy, retail, and circular economy with companies such as Atlas Copco, H&M, Lynk electric cars, PTC & Wallenius shipping, Volvo Buses, ABB, Nasdaq, BDO, and Transcom. This is possible through the “quadruple helix model” which involves collaboration with the Philippine Government, Swedish and Filipino private sector, international development institutions and other expert communities such as academia, as well as the inclusion of civil society. 

Team Sweden is keen to continue these collaborations, especially in security and defense, sustainable and responsible mining, and healthcare with companies such as Saab, Volvo Trucks and Construction Equipment, Sandvik, Ericsson Telecommunications, and Astra Zeneca.

“Sweden is committed to building a long-term and sustainable relationship with the Philippines. This is attested by the visits of our Minister of Trade Johan Forssell last year, the visit of State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Jan Knutsson and leading Swedish industrialist and banker Marcus Wallenberg earlier this year, and now with the Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson,” Ambassador Thunborg added.

At the event, representatives of the Swedish government highlighted the need to address common challenges such as the climate, economic security, and geopolitical tensions. Moreover, in an increasingly polarized world, it is crucial for states to have strong ties with like-minded countries. Sweden sees the Philippines as an important partner with common interests in free trade, the international rules-based order, and the green and digital transition. 

For his part, Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson said, “Peace and security have indeed for a long time been a priority area in the Swedish-Philippine relations. Sweden has since many years actively supported the Bangsamoro Peace Process, and our two countries also cooperate extensively on matters such as promoting and defending the UN Charter, the rules-based international order and respect for international law, including UNCLOS.”

Meanwhile, Philippines’ Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. gave a message on behalf of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

In the President’s message, it noted that “The past 77 years of our relations have been marked by friendly exchanges and fruitful cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade and investments, maritime cooperation, energy, smart and green solutions, science and technology and of course, defense, your visit today, Minister Jonson is a testament to the deepening of our defense and security relations.”

Since 1983, Sweden has celebrated its National Day on the 6th of June. This is the date on which Gustav Vasa was elected king in 1523, which laid the foundation of Sweden as a unified nation state, and on which a new, landmark constitution was adopted in 1809. 

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