Denmark to reopen embassy in ‘booming’ PH

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Denmark will run its embassy in the Philippines 14 years after closing it

DENMARK'S PRIDE. One hundred women jump in the water in front of The Little Mermaid sculpture, a world-famous attraction, in Copenhagen, Denmark on Aug 23, 2013. File photo by Nikolai Linares/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – Twelve years after closing it, Denmark decided to reopen its embassy in the Philippines because it sees the country as one of the world’s “important emerging markets.”

The embassy will likely reopen on August 1, the Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday, January 16.

“We will open missions in regions and countries where economic growth is booming, where there is a huge potential – and where the economic power shift is accompanied by increased political clout. This applies to countries such as Nigeria, the Philippines, and Colombia,” Denmark Foreign Minister Holger Nielsen said in a statement.

The Philippines, after all, has exceeded expectations, posting the highest economic growth in Southeast Asia in the third quarter of 2013.

Nielsen added, “And then we will open an embassy in Myanmar – e.g. with a view to supporting the positive democratization and reform process of the country.” (WATCH: Myanmar takes lead role in ASEAN)

Denmark said the move is part of the “largest reform and modernization of the Danish Foreign Service” in recent history. It said these changes will allow Denmark to reach 300 million more people.

“The country will, on the other hand, close and cut costs in a number of other places,” such as Cyprus, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Milan (Trade Council), and Libya.

“It is a tough and difficult decision to close Missions. It affects both the embassy’s users and staff. However, in the places where missions will be closed, primarily in Europe, we will find new and different ways to cooperate with the countries concerned and to promote Danish interests. But it will be in another and less intense manner,” Nielsen said.

He said Denmark will also boost its presence in “the most important” decision-making centers of the European Union (EU), among others.

For Filipino seafarers

“In brief, the bottom line is: ‘More focus on the world, less on Europe – and more on the EU,’” Nielsen said.

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed this move Friday, January 17.

“The reopening of the Danish Embassy provides recognition of the vast potential for bilateral cooperation in many fields between the Philippines and Denmark,” the DFA said.

Denmark closed its embassy in the Philippines in 2002, reportedly to cut costs.

Denmark’s non-resident ambassador to the Philippines, Nicolai Ruge, is based in Kuala Lumpur.

The Philippines and Denmark established bilateral ties in 1946. With trade pegged at $107 million as of 2012, their relationship’s strength is in the maritime sector.

The reopened embassy will cater to the 374 Denmark nationals in the Philippines, based on the latest government statistics. That’s less than 1% of the 177,365 foreigners who live in the country. 

It will also affect more than 10,500 Filipinos in Denmark, the DFA said. Most of them serve as domestic workers or service crew members.

More than 5,000 Filipino seafarers work aboard Danish-managed, -operated, or -owned vessels, the DFA added.

Based on the latest estimate by the Commission on Overseas Filipinos, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Denmark make up around 1% of around 9.45 million OFWs. –

Editor’s note: We initially said 92.1 million foreigners live in the country. We have corrected this. The 92.1-million figure represents citizens of all countries who live in the Philippines. Only 177,365 of them come from foreign countries. We also said that Denmark closed its embassy in the Philippines 14 years ago. This happened 12 years ago. We regret these mistakes.

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email