Russia, PH seek closer trade, agriculture ties
President Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to strengthen their countries’ trade, agriculture and military ties during the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Danang, Vietnam.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who was part of Mr. Duterte’s entourage, said on his Facebook page that the Russian president had expressed interest in the country’s agriculture products and at the same time offered military hardware including helicopters and a submarine for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Mr. Duterte, for his part, said during the Apec meeting that the Philippines would like to access the Russian market and also welcomed the latter’s plan to establish a ship repair facility in the country.
The plan to boost bilateral trade reflects Russia’s intent to improve economic relations with the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
During the Asean Business and Investment Summit yesterday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said economic relations with the bloc should be improved after recognizing that recent ties were “not as active as they should be.”
One of the challenges in doing this, however, is that Asean member-states are at different levels of economic development, with some more advanced than others.
Nevertheless, he said there was “true interest” on the part of the Russian business community to cooperate in certain sectors.
“We see a true interest of the business community in our country in terms of cooperation in energy transfer, agriculture, sectoral navigation, and financial services technology. Practically, [interest is] in all important sectors,” Medvedev said, noting that this was a “logical” move given that Asean as a whole was the world’s sixth largest economy last year.
Just last month, an agriculture cooperation agreement was signed between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture for the latter to buy up to $2.5 billion worth of Philippine agricultural products.
This dwarfs the $46 million worth of exports the Philippines currently ships to Russia every year.
Piñol met with Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev in October to talk about commodities that the two parties were interested to import and export.
Piñol said Russia was keen to import fisheries and aquatic products as well as tropical fruits from the Philippines, while the Philippines was looking to import wheat, farm machinery, and grains from Russia.
Data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) showed that bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $226.25 million in 2016, with trade favorable to Russia.
Top Philippine exports to Russia include seaweeds, coconuts, static converters, pocket lighters and ignition wiring sets.
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