PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT ARROYO MEETS THE INDIAN COMMUNITY
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, dressed in a long slitted Brocade Gown with matching pants, the material flown in specially for this occasion from India, met the officials of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce, headed by its President Ram Sitaldas and together with Indian Ambassador Rajeet Mitter, on May 18th at Hotel Dusit Thani Makati.
The jam-packed hall, with close to 400 persons, representing the membership of the chamber, heads of various organizations, various Ambassadors, heads of different foreign chambers of the Philippines, and VIPs.
The Philippine government was represented by DTI Sec. Peter Favila, DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzales, DFA Sec. Alberto G. Romulo, Bureau of Immigration Head Com. Marcelino C. Libanan, OSG Solicitor Gen. Hon. Agnes VST Devanadera and other senior officials.
The Indian Chamber also awarded citations to several government agencies, and also there were some Indian awardees too.
In her speech at the 60th anniversary celebrations of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and India at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City, the President congratulated the Indian community for celebrating the anniversary of the 60 years of Philippine Indian diplomatic relations.
She also noted that the Indian Chamber of Commerce is now known as FICC Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce (Phil.), Inc. and she believed that this would now make the trade more stronger, this indicating a strong signal of the presence of the Indians in the Philippines.
President Arroyo has renewed her push for a free trade agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India to help give Asia a stronger voice in global economic affairs. Mrs. Arroyo said the global recession makes it “essential keep our own continent as calm and coordinated as possible.”
ASEAN has a free trade agreement with Japan. She said that because of the economic strength of India and other parts of Asia, including ASEAN, “the Asian continent is the best situated to weather the global crisis and come out the strongest compared with other continents, like America and Europe.”
“It is time to harness the potential of Asia, to capitalize on its resources and to give the Pan-Asian region a stronger voice in shaping the world economic order,” the President Arroyo said.
“One way to achieve this is for ASEAN and India to accelerate the negotiations for an ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement. I hope the Filipino-Indian business community, the Federation of Indian Chambers will make this advocacy as one of your missions for the 60th anniversary of our relations,” she said.
She said the Philippines views Asian neighbors like India as partners in economic development, adding that the government counts on the Philippine-Indian business community to ensure the two countries “work together to build a more cohesive regional community that will strengthen the economic clout of all nations in our rapidly growing region.”
She said the Philippines will remain a competitive player in the region to attract investments by improving the quality of the country’s human resources, in lowering transaction flows and the cost of doing business, in developing efficient access to financing, and building a seamless infrastructure network.
In terms of the economy India and the Philippines are ranked the two most attractive off-shoring destinations in the world” and this brings us to another important level of joint venture partnership between Indian corporations and Philippine business investors,” she said.