Source:  The Daily Tribune, 06 December 2011

The British government affirmed yesterday the strong relationship between the Philippines and the United Kingdom (UK) and expressed Britain’s continuing support for the country’s development and reform in line with shared values.

Minister of State of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Jeremy Browne visited the country for the second time yesterday to affirm the strong relationship between the Philippines and the UK, and launched a UK infrastructure investment mission which aims to promote British expertise in infrastructure and Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

He highlighted the UK’s extensive PPP experience in transport, health and education sectors and also its financial, legal and transaction service expertise for such undertakings.

“I very much welcome the Philippines’ stand on PPP, and am delighted that this infrastructure investment mission will help deliver on our commitment to support the Philippines develop in this area. It is also important for the Philippines to deliver the much-needed infrastructure investments through clear and transparent processes,” he said.

He noted that with the Philippines as the 12th most populous country in the world, the country has a critical mass for investors and on top of this a very wide English-speaking population.

“Here in Asia, the levels of economic development are spectacular and economic growth is the fastest. And I always caution everybody at home that China is the biggest example of this phenomenon but it is certainly not the only example. The people need to look beyond China particularly into South East Asia. If SEA were a single country, or if the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is taken as a whole, it would be thought of as a global power the same way as China and India are. That is the economic potential that exists in SEA. And of course all the countries are diverse, different histories and they are in different stages of development but collectively this is a part of the world where dynamic change is happening at a very exciting rate,” he added.

Meanwhile, Browne also welcomed the country’s commitment to improve transparency and reduce corruption. “We are glad to be working with the Philippines in the UN Open Government Partnership. The Philippines was one of the first countries to sign up to the partnership, demonstrating President Aquino’s thrust toward good government,” he noted.

Browne last visited the Philippines in 2010 to highlight the growing importance that the UK places on emerging powers such as the Philippines. He said that the UK sees the Asian region as playing an increasingly significant role in world affairs.

“Relations between the UK and the Philippines are as strong as they have ever been. Not only are we the largest European investor in the Philippines, we also share the same common values of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. We speak the same language and we’re leading members in two of the world’s most important regional organisations, the EU and Asean,” he said. Danessa O. Rivera