President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will hold bilateral talks with at least 10 heads of government from the European Union starting Monday to bolster Philippine ties with the Western world, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday.
DFA Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Daniel Espiritu said the President, who leaves Sunday night, would hold meetings with the leaders of Belgium, Estonia, Czech Republic, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands and the European Union.Mr. Marcos will conduct these extensive meetings on the sidelines of his three-day participation at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-European Union Summit in Belgium starting December 12, Espiritu said.
“So, this will be a very busy trip for the President,” Espiritu said in a media briefing, adding he will be in Brussels from December 12 to 14.
With Belgium, Mr. Marcos is expected to discuss the country’s plans to expand cooperation in agriculture and renewable energy, the DFA official said.
According to Espiritu, the President’s meeting with Estonia, Czech Republic, and Denmark are also important since the Philippines have partnerships with them in the areas of cybersecurity, defense and maritime, respectively.
The 65-year-old Filipino leader will also meet with his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejon, 15 years his junior, since Spain will be the next president of the EU council.
Spain just also acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, which the Philippines is part of.
Since the Philippines is the current coordinator between the ASEAN and the EU, Mr. Marcos will sit down with the EU leader to talk about “preparations and the way forward” in the relations between the two regional blocs, Espiritu said.
This might include the pending free trade agreement particularly between the Philippines and the EU, he added.
The DFA official said he hoped Mr. Marcos’ first participation at the summit between the two regional blocs “will redound to a lot of benefits for the Filipino people, not only for ASEAN.”
Espiritu also said the President’s first participation at the ASEAN-EU Summit was expected to generate billions of investments for the Philippines as well as hundreds of new jobs for the Filipinos.
According to him, Mr. Marcos would be “very busy” during his trip to Belgium next week as he is set to deliver speeches, hold bilateral talks with fellow leaders and more importantly, pitch for investments from European companies at the sidelines of the ASEAN-European Union Summit.
Among companies he will talk with are consumer goods producer Unilever, shipbuilder Ocea, and energy provider Acciona.
Espiritu said Mr. Marcos’ meeting with Unilever would be “important because this corporation is intending to establish a new state of the art manufacturing facility for personal care products in Cavite.”
“So, this is an expansion of investments, to the tune of P4.7 billion, now expected to generate at least 130 projected employment for the Philippines,” he said.
According to Espiritu, the President is also expected to polish deal with Ocea as it is considering building a shipyard in the country, with an investment of P1.5 billion.
The DFA official said the move would create around 600 direct and indirect jobs for the Filipinos.
The President will also meet with leaders of other companies in the renewable energy and food and supply chain sectors, added Espiritu.
“So, these are only among the few companies with which the President will talk to, which we believe will expand investments in the Philippines and therefore generate more jobs,” he added.
Aside from this, Mr. Marcos will meet members of the Filipino community upon his arrival in Brussels on December 12. According to the DFA, there are 5,647 Filipinos in Belgium.
The President will also be delivering his speech during the plenary of the summit, wherein he will also deliver his omnibus intervention as a country head of the delegate of the Republic of the Philippines.
Mr. Marcos will also tackle various regional and international issues concerning food security, maritime economy, digital economy and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia in Europe.
The President will also discuss the issues concerning the South China Sea issue and the Arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines’ claim on the disputed islands.
The delegation will include members of the Marcos Cabinet and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, currently the Deputy Speaker representing Pampanga’s first district.