VIENTIANE, Laos (MindaNews/04 November) — President Benigno Simeon Aquino arrived here Sunday to attend the two-day 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9) that begins Monday.
Aquino was set to meet Sunday evening with some 300 members of the Philippine community here.
ASEM is a dialogue process among 48 partners, covering all ten ASEAN member-countries, 9 other Asian countries, 27 member states of the European Union (EU), the European Commission, and the ASEAN Secretariat and is the only forum where the EU and Asia engage one another at its highest level of government, with no less than heads of state in attendance.
The President’s presence indicates the Philippines’ renewed focus on Europe, reaffirming its significant economic and political partnership.
Europe is the Philippines’ third largest trade partner after North America and Asia. EU-PH trade relations hit a US$13 billion mark, or 12% of Philippine total trade to the world. EU investments to PH also in 2011 reached P33.3 billion from investments to the country by the UK, France, Netherlands, and Germany.
The Department of Foreign Affairs announced to the Filipino press that Switzerland is a non-EU member-country but an incoming ASEM partner, a major investor that poured in 2011 P2.049 billion Swiss investments.
The Philippines, foreign affairs officials added, is now opening its economic doors to Finland, Russia, and Spain for business and trade investments. (Frencie Carreon/MindaNews)