Director General of Casa Asia
Asia and the Pacific are currently the new axis of world power and the most dynamic region on the planet, accounting for 60% of the world’s GDP, 2/3 of global growth, and three of the four largest economies outside the European Union, namely China, India and Japan. In 2030, moreover, 90% of the 2.4 billion people who will make up the middle class by then will be Asian. Hence the need to forge alliances with our partners on that continent and strengthen relations with those who share the same principles and values, as is the case of the Philippines, with which we have many historical ties.
The country is one of the fastest growing in the region, with more than 100 million inhabitants and a per capita income of USD 3,500. Despite the sharp contraction due to the pandemic, the country’s economic growth is currently in excess of 7% per annum, and the outlook is for it to remain in the 6-6.5% range.
Bilateral relations are good, and in this process of rapprochement between our two countries, the contribution of civil society has been fundamental. If Spain and the Philippines have so much in common today, it is, to a large extent, thanks to the contributions of sectors such as academia, associations and business, or the Spanish and Filipino communities, which contribute to the diversity of our respective societies.
For all these reasons, a forum for debate and cooperation was created in 2004, under the name of Tribuna España-Filipinas, which has allowed us to analyse the state of our relations, and to continue strengthening them. Since then, eight editions have been held, and the next one will take place on 6 and 7 February in Madrid. Casa Asia, on the Spanish side, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on the Philippine side, are the two organising entities, and the driving force behind a meeting that on this occasion will revolve around topics such as geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific, given China’s growing assertiveness and the strategic rivalry between China and the United States, economic opportunities in sectors such as energy and infrastructure, which have recently opened up to private investment, or the promotion of Spanish in the Philippines, and the situation of Philippine studies in Spain. We hope that this public diplomacy forum, which has not been held since 2016, and which is being relaunched after the pandemic, will be consolidated as a meeting place for all actors interested in relations between Spain and the Philippines and, ultimately, in advancing a common agenda.
Within the framework of this Tribune, there will also be a ceremony to hand over the legacy of José Rizal in the Caja de las Letras of the Cervantes Institute. This is undoubtedly an act of historical vindication of a key figure in the history of the Philippines, but also in Spanish history. The event, which will be attended by the Ambassadors of Spain to the Philippines and of the Philippines to Spain, will hopefully highlight Rizal’s stature as a literary figure, which is less well known than his facet as a fighter for independence.
In Spain and the Philippines, with a shared history, in which there are inevitably lights and shadows, there is an eagerness to incorporate new nuances in a bilateral relationship, which is a reflection of ourselves, but also of a future that we want to share.
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