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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Dec 21, 2022

What the ASEAN-EU meet means to Pinoys

Amid a freezing temperature of -3 degrees Celsius, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. went on to fulfill his duties in promoting the interests of Filipinos and that of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the ASEAN-European Union Commemorative Summit held in Brussels, Belgium.

As the current country coordinator of the ASEAN, the Philippines is responsible in coordinating and promoting the interests of ASEAN in its relations with dialogue partners, including the EU, as well as regional and international organizations and institutions.

President Marcos pointed out the three priorities of the ASEAN in terms of potential cooperation with EU, and these are closer maritime cooperation; stronger economic cooperation both on bilateral and bloc-to-bloc relations; and getting together to fight the effects of climate change and to ensure sustainable development.

He emphasized the pivotal role of the ASEAN-EU Business Council in advancing ASEAN’s regional economic integration and post-pandemic economic recovery. Likewise, he relayed the anticipation of the ASEAN region on the resumption of negotiations for the establishment of an ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement and of the ASEAN-EU Trade and Investment Work Program.

But one might ask, what does these events mean to the ordinary Filipino?

Aside from the activities of the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit, the President had many other meetings and side events to promote the Philippine interests. As he met with business leaders from different European companies, President Marcos secured ₱9.8 billion worth of investment pledges, particularly in the sectors of fast-moving consumer goods, shipbuilding, renewable energy, and green metals. This means more jobs, better opportunities, pump priming the economy.

Moreover, as the President met with various leading ship owners all over Europe, he was able to obtain their commitment to help the country hurdle some of the challenges in Filipino seafarers’ European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) accreditation through the creation of an advisory council composed of concerned Philippine government agencies, international and local ship owners and other stakeholders.

This will prevent massive loss of jobs among Filipino seafarers.

The chief executive also met with the King of Belgium, and held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the European Council, the European Commission, Estonia, Sweden, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Spain, discussing with them many possible areas of further development and future partnerships. For instance, during President Marcos’ bilateral meeting with Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, they agreed to strengthen cooperation in digitalization, e-governance, and cybersecurity. Estonia is one of the most digitally advanced nations and the President would want to learn how they were able to pursue digital transformation while effectively addressing cyber threats.

From the onset, President Marcos has been emphasizing digitalization as one of the priorities of his administration because he believes that this is vital in the overall development of the country. This is why Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy, who was part of the Philippine delegation, is aligning the Department’s programs with the vision of the President. He also stressed that through information and communications technology, the country would be able to have a more efficient government.

Overall, the President’s visit to Belgium for the ASEAN-EU Summit would generate opportunities for the benefit of the Filipino people. 

This is also aligned with what the President has been emphasizing from the start — the Filipino people harnessing opportunities and recovering together towards a stronger, more resilient, and more productive Philippines.

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