Press Release
June 23, 2006

Miriam going with GMA to Europe

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said yesterday she will join President Arroyo in her official visits to Italy and Spain to promote greater bilateral relations between the Philippines and the two countries.

Santiago, who previously joined Mrs. Arroyo on her trip to Saudi Arabia last month, said the six-day working trip starts this Sunday in Italy.

She said Italy has developed a strong partnership with the Philippines since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries in 1947.

Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, pointed out that several agreements have been concluded between the Philippines and Italy including visa waiver, development cooperation, culture, economic, and science and technology.

Italy is the countrys 7th largest trading partner in the European Union in 2005, accounting for $344 million of the countrys total trade with the world, Santiago said, adding:

There is plenty of room for expansion of trade. We can push for promotion of several Philippine products such as garments, jewelry, furniture, processed foods and automotive parts to Italy.

According to the solon, the country could also take advantage of the high purchasing power of Italy which has been increasing faster than its fellow EU members.

Santiago said the Philippine delegation to Spain would try to convince the country to open up its labor market to some 100,000 Filipinos in the next two years.

The Philippines and Spain share a profound and special relationship based on cultural and historical ties, friendship and cooperation, Santiago said.

Spain is not only the Philippines historical madre patria, but contemporarily its friend and partner in the countrys inexorable march towards progress, development, peace and prosperity, she added.

Santiago said Spain could serve as the Philippines principal link with the Latin-American countries, as well as a gateway to better economic and political advantages with European countries.

The visits to both Italy and Spain can boost the Philippines hope in pursuing economic reforms. They will make easier Philippine and European economic cooperation and they will promote the cost of fighting world poverty, Santiago said.

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