Manila, Helsinki eye broadened economic ties

Published April 15, 2021, 6:30 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

Manila and Helsinki are looking at expanding their economic cooperation as well as closely working on climate crisis adaptation strategies, the Department of Finance said on Wednesday, April 14.

During a recent virtual meeting, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Finnish Ambassador to Manila Juha Pyykkö discussed ways on how the Philippines and Finland can expand their bilateral ties.

Pyykkö said Finland sees numerous opportunities in economic development in the Philippines, and in cooperating on climate change mitigation measures, digitalization, smart city development, education and web-based healthcare services.

The Ambassador also said he wants to rekindle the interest of Finnish investors, especially after Finland reopened its embassy in Manila in September last year, primarily to facilitate business ties involving the two countries.

He cited the country’s stable economic fundamentals with positive mid-term outlook, along with its reforms on corporate taxation and infrastructure development, as among the reasons why he wants Finnish investors to “have another look at the Philippines.” 

The Ambassador also said the Philippines can explore Finland’s web-based tools and phenomenon-based budgeting strategy to help mobilize citizen action against the climate crisis and realize the country’s sustainable development goals.

Pyykkö then commended the Philippines’ active participation in the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, of which Finland was among the key initiators. 

Dominguez, for his part,  said the Philippines has sustained its strong fiscal position, enhanced the ease of doing business, improved peace and order,  and ramped up spending on infrastructure to fuel economic growth.

This socioeconomic reform agenda also includes a comprehensive tax reform program, which is now benefitting 99 percent of individual taxpayers through savings on personal income tax payments equivalent to about a month’s salary, he said.

Tax reform also raised taxes on sugary beverages and “sin” products such as alcohol and tobacco, which is helping fund the government’s universal health care program, Dominguez told the Finnish ambassador.

Dominguez, meanwhile, welcomed Finland’s offer on using web-based tools to encourage Filipinos at the grassroots level to act on measures to mitigate the climate crisis.

The finance chief also informed Pyykkö of his strong advocacy, as chairperson-designate of the Climate Change Commission, on the ban against single-use plastics. 

Pyykkö congratulated Dominguez on supporting the ban on single-use plastics. The Ambassador said  this would involve action down at the local level, which is what Finland has been doing as well to mitigate the impact of, and adapt to, the climate crisis.