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DTI head to sign trade deals with Russia

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said he was staying behind in Russia to sign bilateral agreements with the foreign government in a bid “to deliver the message that business will continue” in spite of the terrorist attacks on a city in Mindanao.

Lopez told reporters through a phone message that he and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had been directed by President Duterte to continue as scheduled the official meetings with government counterparts as well as the planned business fora.
Around 300 investors accompanied Duterte in his state visit to Russia, eager to take advantage of the new turn in Philippine foreign policy as it courts nontraditional allies such as Moscow and Beijing for their untapped economic potential.

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However, Duterte’s trip was cut short by a terrorist attack in Marawi City, an ongoing crisis which pushed the firebrand leader to declare Mindanao under martial law late Tuesday night.

“We have to deliver the message that business will continue and isolated lawless violence like the one that happened in Marawi shall be quickly suppressed,” Lopez said.

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Last week, Lopez said he was expected to bring home two memorandums of understanding—one on trade and investment promotion and another on industry cooperation. The agreements would be done through government-to-government and private-to-private transactions.

Had Duterte’s trip not been stopped midway, he would have stayed in Russia until May 26.

Lopez said the growth momentum of the Philippines would not be affected by terrorist attack even as the surprise declaration of martial law raised worries among some business circles.

“Economic growth that brings more jobs and income opportunities for the Filipinos, especially in the countryside, will continue,” he added.

Duterte last went to Russia in November wherein Russian President Vladimir Putin committed to buy $2.5 billion worth of Philippine agricultural products—a pledge which is expected to be implemented later this year.

His trip to Russia came after the inaugural meeting of the Philippines-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC) in April.

The first JCTEC meeting tackled economic cooperation initiatives in areas such as trade, investments, industry, peaceful use of nuclear energy and agriculture, among others, according to DTI.

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TAGS: bilateral agreements, DTI, Mindanao, Russia, Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, terrorist attacks
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