Philippines, Russia firms sign $875 M business deals

By Iris Gonzales

MOSCOW – Close to $1 billion worth of business deals have been signed between Philippine and Russian firms following President Duterte’s shortened state visit here.

 “So far, we have around $875 million business-to-business projects between Philippine and Russian companies,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

The Duterte administration, represented by Lopez, opened the Philippines-Russia Business Forum Thursday at the Four Seasons Hotel here where companies from both countries signed business deals.

A number are in the areas of iron and steel, agribusiness, multi-purpose vehicles, power, energy, property development, transport and construction, Lopez said.

There are also economic, scientific and technical cooperation among private and government institutions such as the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine International Trading Corp., the Bureau of Investments and industry associations like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Roscongress Foundation and CCRIF of Russia, he added.

During Thursday’s forum, the roughly 200 business delegates from the Philippines met with their Russian counterparts. Representatives from about 90 companies from Russia, including some of this Eurasian country’s biggest conglomerates, came to meet with Filipino businessmen.

Lopez said the forum seeks to pave the way for more Russian companies to invest in the Philippines and for Filipino businessmen to be able to bag lucrative deals from Russia, known for their steel, oil and gas, infrastructure and arms industries.

Lopez trumpeted Dutertenomics and highlighted key areas which he said are the government’s top priorities in terms of tax incentives. These are services, manufacturing, agribusiness, infrastructure and logistics.

Russia’s Deputy Minister for Economic Development Alexander Tsybulskiy, in his welcome remarks, said the Russian Federation is doing everything to expand bilateral relations.

“We hope this meeting will be a good beginning forlong-term cooperation,” Tsybulskiy said.

As a result of Duterte’s official visit here, more products from the Philippines are expected to penetrate Russia.

Russia is particularly interested in coconut oil, carrageenan, frozen marine and seafood products, processed food and beverage, furniture, automotive batteries and agricultural products such as bananas.

The Philippines, meanwhile, is interested in Russia’s steel billets, urea fertiliser, coal, pharmaceutical ingredients, chemicals, wheat flour and sewn timber for furniture and builder woodworks, PITC president and CEO Dave Almarinez said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said bilateral trade between Manila and Moscow in 2016 totalled $226 million, with the Philippines exporting only $49 million worth of goods to Russia.

Among those who attended Thursday’s forum are Bernard Dy, president and CEO of Ayala Land Inc; Fernando Martinez, chairman and CEO of Eastern Petroleum Group of Companies; Jose Concepcion III, president and CEO of RFM Corp. and presidential adviser for entrepreneurship; Roberto de Venecia, chairman of the Philippines-Russia Business Council; George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Jorge Consunji of DMCI Group; Michael Toledo, spokesperson of the MVP Group; Felipino Palafox of Palafox Associates and Michael Tan, president of LT Group Inc.

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