MANILA - Sweden is interested in expanding trade with the Philippines and many Swedish companies may invest in the country, its Foreign Trade Minister Johan Forssell said on Friday.
Forssell is in Manila for a two-day visit to explore how to beef up trade relations between Sweden and the Philippines.
He said in jest that halo-halo, a popular cold dessert in the Philippines, could be one good export alongside Philippine fruits.
"I tried the mangoes, of course. It's excellent, I must say. Also, I tried this special dessert. Halo-halo. It was a bit different from what I am used to, but I liked it. I had all of it. Perhaps that's another possible export product to Sweden from the Philippines," said Forssell.
Forsell is meeting with officials from the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Energy, Department of National Defense, Department of Finance and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
He said Sweden is interested in many sectors like power, railways, infrastructure, and security among others.
"There's potential in many different areas. It could be in infrastructure, it could be in transportation, the green transition of course. But also health and security," said Forssell.
He believes the Philippines is a good place for investments with a young population and growing economy.
"We have 40 different Swedish companies that are located here today, but we believe there's potential for so much more. Very strong, very impressive economic growth," he added.
However, he also noted that regulatory reforms could help improve the country's investment position.
"When I'm talking to Swedish companies here, they tell me that there is a very strong economic possibility here, but of course, there are always things that could be better. We're talking about bureaucracy, for example, an area which could be improved," he revealed.
Some of the more well-known Swedish companies in the Philippines today include IKEA, H&M, AstraZeneca and Volvo.
In 2022, Swedish exports to the Philippines hit $152 million, 10.5 percent higher than the previous year. While Philippine exports to Sweden jumped 127 percent to $124 million.
Philippine exports to Sweden include machinery, fruits, and fish.