A Swedish company involved in defense and security is starting up an office in Taguig City on Wednesday and its representatives will be part of a 70-member business delegation from Sweden that will be visiting explore opportunities in the country.
Swedish Ambassador-designate Harald Fries, who arrived here in September, said the businessmen would be here in time for the reopening of their embassy also in Taguig City on Tuesday, along with Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg.
The minister will lead the inauguration of the embassy.
Fries, who was deputy director of the Swedish foreign ministry’s department for the European Union, said the 70 business representatives are from 25 companies and many more had been expressing interest to join the delegation.
Sweden closed its embassy in Manila in 2008. It put the Philippines under the jurisdiction of its embassy in Bangkok but maintained an honorary consulate here.
“My impression is that the Swedish companies see very positive things in this country and that’s why many are signing up to this delegation,” Fries said, noting that the Swedish businesses were interested in infrastructure, disaster preparedness and response, energy, manufacturing, among others.
The ambassador said Saab, a company providing air, land, naval and civil aerospace products and services, could offer coastal surveillance equipment and even submarines to the Philippines.
Sweden is part of the European Union, which President Duterte lambasted recently for criticizing his bloody war against illegal drugs.
Asked whether his government was worried about the new administration, Fries said: “In Sweden there is a lot of attention given to the war against drugs… We follow closely how this war is going and there is clearly a concern in Sweden about the number of deaths.”
“But there are also of course many positive things that (are happening),” Fries said yesterday afternoon during a visit to the newspaper’s office in Manila.
He cited the economic reforms and the Mindanao peace process that Sweden had been supporting.
“We are organizing seminars, workshops,” Fries said, noting that their minister for enterprise and innovation was very keen on improving business relations with other countries.
“He has headed several business delegations but I think for the Philippines this is by far the biggest Sweden has ever had,” Fries said.
Fries disclosed the Swedish companies were interested in infrastructure programs already in the pipeline, particularly in solving traffic problems in Metro Manila, building airports and connecting the islands better, and promoting regional growth.
On disasters, Fries said they could help the Philippines develop resiliency with their companies’ knowledge and products on how to prepare and deal with calamities.
He said when Super Typhoon Yolanda hit in 2103, the Swedish came in quickly to assist the victims.
Fries said those from the sustainable energy sector could offer various solutions, including floating windmills for the country, while in manufacturing, the top representatives of Swedish Match, a company that had been here for almost 100 years, would also join the delegation and meet government counterparts to discuss business.
Swedish Match, based in Laguna, is a maker of lighters, among other products.
Fries said IKEA, seller of ready-to-assemble furniture and other home products, had also decided to establish stores in the country.
“They have been here for a long time checking the situation and finally (they have found that the time is right),” Fries said.
Transcom, a Swedish information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) company, currently employs a total of 10,000 Filipino workers in their offices in Manila, Iloilo and Bacolod cities, Fries pointed out.