MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine ambassador to Portugal is keen on reinvigorating the “stale” ties between Manila and Lisbon, optimistic that Filipino-made products can find a place in the Portuguese market.
Ambassador Philippe Lhuillier, one of the country’s top businessmen, is finding ways to explore greater trade exchanges with Portugal and at the same time boost the awareness of Filipinos about the European country.
“We have to start from scratch, reintroduce the Philippines, let them know about us,” said Lhuillier in an interview in Manila. “It’s a good challenge for me.”
Lhuillier served 11 years as envoy to Italy before he was posted to Lisbon in January.
He said there was little trade to speak of between Manila and Lisbon, after the Philippines re-established an embassy in Portugal’s capital city in 2010. Portugal has no mission in Manila.
Among areas of cooperation the new envoy is looking into are Philippine exportation of furniture, home décor, houseware, costume jewelry, processed food, health products and electronics.
“It’s very exciting. It’s a very big challenge. I don’t guarantee a miracle but I’ll see what can be done,” he said.
Lhuillier has met with Portugal’s top tourism official with whom he has agreed to widen information exchange. He has also met with the Navy chief to learn from a country with one of the longest seafaring traditions.
The ambassador has also met with envoys of different nations based in Lisbon and hopes to meet with the mayors of key Portuguese cities, believing that the local chief executives “are the closest contacts to business people.”
Lhuillier is also considering the appointment of an honorary consul in Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, to establish closer relations apart from the capital.
The envoy is also hoping to develop the Philippines’ linkages with Portugal as a window toward penetrating other Portuguese-speaking countries, notably Angola and Mozambique.—Tarra Quismundo