On 5 March 2019, the Philippine Ambassador to Spain Philippe J. Lhuillier received the President and officers of the Spain-ASEAN Business Association (ASEMPEA / Asociación Empresarial España-ASEAN) at the Philippine Embassy.
Ambassador Lhuillier met with Mr. Tomás González, President of ASEMPEA; Atty. Antonio Viñal, ASEMPEA Secretary-General; Mr. Felipe Canet, Director General, Centunion; and Mr. Javier Valero Marín, Director, Globaltec Development and Engineering.
ASEMPEA is a new association, inaugurated in November 2018, and they announced that they are now formally starting their operations. Mr. González informed the Ambassador that they were organizing at least five events for their members and the public within the next two months. Among ASEMPEA’s main objectives, they intend to act as a lobby group in Spain, advocating for business interests and relaying concerns about on the ease of doing business to concerned governments. Mr. González also said they would like to work toward mutual recognition of Spanish engineers in ASEAN member countries.
For his part, Ambassador Lhuillier welcomed this news and stated that the Philippine Embassy was ready to work closely with ASEMPEA to boost mutual trade and investment ties, while noting that there were already significant Philippine investments in the Spanish market. Ambassador Lhuillier stressed that Europe as a whole, and Spain in particular, should exert more effort to enter the booming Southeast Asian market, and show its seriousness of intent with concrete proposals.
The ASEMPEA officials agreed, and noted that Mr. González, Mr. Marín, and Mr. Canet were scheduled to visit Manila individually within the next two months for their own private business interests.
According to Mr. González, aside from being a business networking organizer, ASEMPEA also sees itself as the main reference point for Spanish companies seeking to do business in Southeast Asia. As such, they are planning to offer seminars on business culture in ASEAN, legal and regulatory environment in each member country, and more. They also expect to organize private sector exchange visits between Spain and ASEAN. ASEMPEA also offered to act as a point of contact between ASEAN governments and the Spanish government for the purpose of pushing issues of mutual interest for the private sector.
After the private meeting at the Philippine Embassy, Ambassador Lhuillier and the ASEMPEA officials joined the four other resident ASEAN Ambassadors in Madrid (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam) for a lunch hosted by the ASEAN Committee in Madrid (ACM). During this meeting, the ACM welcomed ASEMPEA’s initiatives and expressed confidence in the success of the organization. Both sides committed to work together to enhance trade and investment ties between Spain and ASEAN.