Russia eyes diversified trade, cooperation with PH

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2019 05:18 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2019 06:03 PM

MANILA - Russia wants to explore new areas of trade and cooperation with the Philippines in pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, civil aviation, infrastructure including airport development, railways, and power. 

Visiting Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Aleksey Gruzdev said Wednesday that two-way trade between the two countries “is developing quite rapidly” and is now worth $1.2 billion, seeing a 100-percent growth in a year. 

Trade and economic relations between the two countries are not that diversified, hence Russia’s desire to explore new possibilities, said Gruzdev. 

His delegation, which is made up of business people representing Russian companies in the said fields, has set meetings with officials from the Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Department of Trade and Industry, as well as companies such as San Miguel Corp. and Udenna Corp.

Russia is reportedly eyeing President Rodrigo Duterte's Build, Build, Build program and possible infrastructure cooperation, particularly plans to build new airports. 

Gruzdev said Russia is offering its technology, air traffic control, navigation landing systems and security capabilities to the Philippines.

The Russian official, also co-chairman of the Joint Russia-Philippines Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, said Russia hopes his visit “would evolve into contracts, agreements and joint cooperation."

“We do hope under supervision of joint commission, we would witness new agreements and new contracts,” Gruzdev said. 

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said a number of agreements in different sectors will be signed during Duterte’s visit to Russia in October but did not specify the agreements for now. 

Duterte is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.

Russia has committed to help the Philippines increase its defense capabilities and is open to supplying weapons, conducting joint drills and transfer relevant defense technologies to help in efforts for regional peace and security.

US President Donald Trump signed a law last year punishing Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its support for Syria's government and its suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.

US allies, like the Philippines, that would buy weapons and equipment from Russia, the world's second largest arms exporter, would also be penalized and could see the transfer of those arms disrupted.