Successful promotion of ADB projects beat forecast by 166 percent

Some 5 million USD, said Sweden’s then minister in Manila, Lars Andreasson, when asked last February about the potential for ADB funded projects to Swedish companies during 2003.
     The actual outcome: USD 13.3 Million!
     166 percent better than forecasted.
     And for 2004?
     “That is difficult to say. But we hope to reach about the same level, that is USD 10 to 15 million,” says Mr Ulf Walden, the current Minister at Sweden’s embassy in Manila.
     A new Swedish strategy to fight for Asian Development Bank, ADB, projects was initiated in 2002 as part of the larger new Asia Strategy developed of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm.
     The strategy emphasises the importance of high-level visits to the ADB to explore possibilities for closer cooperation and more co financing arrangements between Sweden and ADB.
     Back then Swedish companies were lukewarm to the ADB and its projects and activity was low. Sweden’s embassy in Manila therefore began to target and identify individual decision makers at the companies’ head offices and provide them with tailor made information about ADB projects relevant to their specific business.
     Business trips were organised. Know how and interest in the ADB grew as a result of the joint efforts. More requests to the embassy in Manila and a number of corporate visits to the ADB head office in Manila followed.
     And the positive trend continues. Between 22 and 26 March this year ten Swedish companies visited the ADB’s headquarters in Manila to learn and make contacts there.
     “Part of the programme also dealt with the Filipino market. The embassy arranged 150 individual visits between Swedish and Filipino company representatives,” writes ambassador Annika Markovic in a report after the visit.
     The March visitors represented 50/50 consulting and manufacturing companies.
     Over twenty Swedish companies are currently using the embassy trade section’s ADB related services.
     “But we believe we can attract many more. That requires marketing by our trade section during personal visits in Sweden,” stresses Annika Markovic.
     You also mention in the report that more staff is needed at the embassy to cope with the ADB work. How has Stockholm responded to that?
     “The Ministry did not support my request for a new position here during 2004 but there is an ‘opening’ for it later during the current three year period. The situation may change as the foreign service currently is making an effort to promote exports with a number of new positions at Swedish embassies around the world. And we do what we can to make Manila get its share of this drive as we see the potential for increased exports here and to get more ADB projects,” says Annika Markovic.
     Competition for ADB projects is hard. Sweden’s neighbour Finland did for example bring in 17 companies to a similar visit in early March 2004.
     Still Sweden leads the Nordic league in the consultant company group awarded ADB projects 2003 while we lag behind Denmark but before Norway and Finland in the supplier category.

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