PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III is set to visit United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from June 4 to 6 to bring the Philippines “in the radar of European investors.”
At a press briefing in Malacañang Wednesday, Foreign Affairs assistant secretary Elizabeth Buensuceso said this will be the President’s first official visit to the UK and to Europe since his assumption into office in 2010.
With “Rising Philippines, Strong Britain: Forcing a New Era of Mutual Prosperity and Partnership” as its theme, the visit seeks to expand opportunities for closer economic cooperation between the Philippines and the UK.
Also, it seeks to build up cooperation towards global peace, conflict-resolution and combating international crime.
Moreover, Buensuceso said the visit aims to deepen people-to-people linkages from the grassroots to the highest levels of government; and celebrate shared values of democracy, free speech, good governance, transparency and counter-corruption.
According to her, the assumption to power in May 2010 of the UK’s Coalition Government led by Prime Minister David Cameron reinvigorated the bilateral relationship between the Philippines and the UK.
“This unprecedented focus on deepening Philippine-British bilateral ties, especially in economic and political/security matters, has even led the British Government to describe the Philippines as an ‘emerging power in East Asia’,” she said.
During the visit, Aquino will be meeting with Cameron at 10 Downing Street, where they are expected to discuss Philippines-UK political and economic cooperation, the UK’s participation in the International Contact Group (ICG), regional and international issues, and anti-corruption and good governance practices both in the Philippine and the UK governments.
Several business meetings with top British investors have also been lined up for Aquino, especially with those interested in doing business in the Philippines and participate in the administration’s Public-Private Partnership Program, said Buensuceso.
The UK was one of the first countries that have shown support for the PPP program.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth will be offering Aquino a lunch, which will be presided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Lord of Mayor of London, the Right Honorable Alderman David Wootton at Lancaster House, where several business agreements are expected to be signed.
Aquino will also be meeting with His Royal Highness the Duke of York Prince Andrew, as the official representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee during that time.
Aquino is also expected to meet with some members of the 250,000-strong Filipino community in the UK.
Aquino will be accompanied by eight Cabinet members and several Filipino businessmen who will look into enhancing reciprocal investment, trade and tourism opportunities between the Philippines and the United Kingdom.
Buensuceso said the UK leadership is looking for alternative places and safe havens in Asia amid an ongoing crisis in Europe.
“In the past, when Europe says Asia, they only refer to China, India, Singapore. But this time, the focus is on the Philippines. So we are gaining recognition and with this visit, I think, the Philippines will be in the radar of European investors,” she said.
She added the UK is now watching how the Philippines is performing very well because UK and the Philippines are founding members of the open government partnership program. (GMA News)