“We value your friendship.”
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo made that message when he was the guest speaker the EU-Philippines Business Summit at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City, she was conveying her message to the European Union itself and the European business community doing business in the Philippines.
This despite a few days back President Rodrigo Duterte told all European diplomats to “leave the Philippines in 24 hours,” in reaction to the critics saying that the country may be expelled from the United Nations Human Rights Council. *
|The Vice President in the EU-Philippines Business Summit( photo credit to Interaksyon website)|
“Your importance to us goes beyond economics, trade, and aid. We are grateful for your support and Guidance in many aspects of our lives,” the Vice President said.
At the time when the President and the EU are both very passionate in defending their respective opinions regarding the status of the human rights in the country, the Vice President hopes that it will not “extensively strain” the Philippines-EU relationship.
“I never thought I would see the day when such a university accepted and protected concept can be painted as undesirable and even wrong,’ Robredo said. “every day I worry about how this will affect our young ones and our future generations.”
The Philippines enjoys GSP+ under the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences, enabling the Philippines to export to the European Union with zero duties. In 2016 alone, the Philippines was able to export to EU 1.71 billion worth of goods and services.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen earlier said cutting aid from the 28-member bloc would mean the loss of about €250 million or $278.73 million worth of grants.
EU overtook the United States and Japan as being the largest destination of exports from the Philippines in March, according to the Philippines Statistics Authority.
The Vice President emphasized that the GSP+ can create more markets for Filipino entrepreneurs who want to make it outside of the country. *
“The agenda for all of us is clear,” she told the European audience. “how do we tear down walls and find ways to collaborate better, so that our joint business agenda can serve those who have been left behind by progress, as well as enhance economic growth?”
Robredo concluded, “Let us keep talking. Let us keep finding ways to collaborate better. And thank you all for keeping faith in the Philippines. More power to all of you. Mabuhay po kayo.”