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Highlights areas of bilateral cooperation with Russians

 DTI USec Barba in Russia
The Philippine delegation led by Trade Undersecretary Rowel Barba, successfully concluded a trade and investment scoping mission, as well as actively participated in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Russia.

VLADIVOSTOK—Following the June visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in Russia, the Philippines (PH) successfully concluded a trade and investment scoping mission in Russia, as well as actively participated in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) on 6-7 September.

“During this mission, we promoted PH trade and investment opportunities to Russian importers and buyers of food products, government representatives of the Primorsky Territory, officials and members of the Primorsky Chamber of Commerce & Industry, officials of the commercial port of Vladivostok, and the Far Eastern Development Corporation,” said Trade and Industry Undersecretary Rowel Barba, who led the PH delegation to Vladivostok.

Government and private sector delegates from the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Philippines-Russia Business Council (PRBC), the Philippine-Russian Business Assembly, Inc. (PRBA), and the Mindanao Banana Farmers & Exporters Association (MBFEA) also participated in the mission.

Meanwhile, USec. Barba also served as panel speaker during the EEF’s Russia-ASEAN Dialogue, where he underscored the latest developments and business opportunities in PH and ASEAN. He highlighted the MOUs signed during President Duterte’s visit to Russia. PRBA’s Armi Lopez Garcia and PRBC’s Roberto De Venecia were also resource speakers during the session and together with USec. Barba, they promoted the country and the vast economic opportunities and complementation between both countries.

Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta, meanwhile, was a panelist on the topic “Russia-ASEAN 2017: New Horizons for Mutual Cooperation.”

Parallel to the PH participation to the EEF was the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings on 4-11 September, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) taking the lead.

“The key to unlocking the doorway of opportunity is by demystifying the landscape of ASEAN-Russian trade relationship. This means generating more trade opportunities between both sides, as well as creating trust and confidence in each other in the course of doing business,” said USec. Barba.

PH also encouraged private sector members to do business in PH given that among the ASEAN countries, PH is consistently among the fastest growing economies.

Also at the EEF, PRBA signed a cooperation agreement with Roscongress Foundation to enhance PH-Russia cooperation, arranging effective communications between the expert communities, business and political groups of both sides. Said agreement includes exchange of delegations and mutual expert support in organising high profile events, as well as expansion of contacts between the two countries’ business communities that will contribute to the development of trade and economic relations.

“This partnership between the two organisations will be an important platform to increase trade and investment between PH and Russia,” said USec. Barba. PH has a bilateral trade value of US$ 226.25M in 2016 with Russia, making Russia its 33rd top trading partner.

According to him, the mission complements the administration’s thrust to increase bilateral trade levels with non-traditional trading partners, including Russia.

“We are prepared to supply Russia with high-quality export products, including food and agricultural products, garments, personal care products, gifts and home-style products, electronic products and semiconductors, and automotive parts and components, among many others,” he said.

Aside from agricultural products, such as fishery products and fresh fruits, PH also offers investment potential in the sectors of infrastructure and public-private partnership (PPP) projects, as PH pushes its ‘Build Build Build’ Program.

“By being a partner in developing Philippine industries, especially in the area of mineral processing and supply of iron and steel, Russian investors can also take advantage of supplying the primordial inputs to our infrastructure development program. They can also be a source of strategic imports that support our local priority sectors,” USec. Barba added.

Russian business can likewise consider opportunities in oil and gas, electronics, aerospace, energy, IT-BPM, agriculture, tourism and retail trade in PH.

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