Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to forge stronger bilateral relations with Spain during the 13th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day and the 116th Anniversary of the Historic Siege of Baler recently held in Baler, Aurora.

“A stronger partnership between Spain and the Philippines will allow us to advance our respective development goals, expand our markets, and improve the quality of life of our people. We are urging Spain and our friends in Latin America to seize opportunities in Asia through the Philippines,” said Cristobal.

Cristobal joined former Senate President Edgardo Angara, who authored the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day Act (Republic Act 9187), and members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the business sector and officials from the country’s cultural agencies in commemorating the year-long siege of Baler and Philippine-Spanish relations.

“Spain is potentially an important trade partner of the Philippines- we can be Spain’s gateway to Asia. Our common heritage forged many centuries ago is a sound basis to increase trade and investments that will sustain the robust pace of growth we have been experiencing,” explained Cristobal.

The Philippines is currently one of the fastest growing economies in this dynamic region, growing at an average of 6% every year for the past four years and financially, in firm footing. The country improved dramatically in competitiveness rankings since 2010 – moved up from the 85th place in 2010 to the 52th in 2014.

Meanwhile, Spanish Ambassador Luis A. Calvo said that the Philippines, as the only country in ASEAN to be granted inclusion in the European Union's General Scheme of Preference Plus (EU-GSP+), is attracting a significant number of Spanish companies who are interested in doing business in the country and contributing to its modernization.

The EU-GSP+ is an enhanced tariff scheme that allows the Philippines to export 6, 274 products to any of the 28 members of EU at zero tariffs. This makes products produced in the Philippines more competitive in EU compared to other ASEAN countries.

Ambassador Calvo explained that Spain looks forward to the establishment of an FTA between the Philippines and the European Union (EU). He adds that, until such a time, Spain will continue to take advantage of the rapidly improving economic environment prevailing in the Southeast Asian region, particularly in the Philippines.

Spain ranks as the Philippines’ 26th major trading partner, 25th export market and 23rd import source. Earlier this year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the bilateral merchandise trade between the Philippines and Spain for the first three months of 2015 already reached USD 130 million. www.industrytradephilippines.com. (END)