DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez discusses the Dutertenomics framework for inclusive growth before an assembly of businessmen in St. Petersburg, Russia.

MOSCOW—Following the USD 875 million-worth of potential investments secured between the Philippines (PH) and Russia, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez endeavored to strengthen PH-Russia business links by engaging, in separate fora, top chambers of commerce in Moscow and St. Petersburg on 25 and 26 May.

“I consider business fora in Moscow and St. Petersburg successful because of the good networking and business leads created from both sides,” said Sec. Lopez, adding that participants mostly Russians (70%) in Moscow forum reached about 450, while in St. Petersburg about 200.

“These Russian businessmen came from the industries of pharmaceutical, manufacturing, construction materials, iron and steel, property development, power energy, to name a few,” he added.

In both fora, the trade chief shared the Dutertenomics strategy for inclusive growth and emphasized PH’s current growth story characterized by strong macro-economic fundamentals, strong investors’ confidence and good governance.

Earlier, Sec. Lopez met with the principals and heads of the Business Russia Federation, composed of large-scale entrepreneurs in the area of pharmacy, medicine and mining. They were introduced to potential company partners in the Philippine business delegation.

A CEO Roundtable followed involving Russia’s top business executives from Business Russia, R-Pharma (pharmaceutical products, medical research) and Vi Holdings Group (metallurgy, mining and processing, power and energy, real estate).

Pharmaceutical, PPP, infrastructure

Sec. Lopez sought Russian businessmen’s involvement in developing the country’s infrastructure and public-private partnership (PPP) projects. He also reiterated relevance of adopting an inclusive growth model, integrating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the value chain of bigger companies.

Sec. Lopez and PH team showcased various trade and investment opportunities available to Russian businessmen, as well as key industries, wherein PH has comparative advantage.

In Moscow on 25 May, Sec. Lopez, Science & Technology Sec. Fortunato dela Peña, Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol and trade officials exchanged views with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (CCIRF), which represents the interests of small, medium-size, and big enterprises in manufacturing, domestic and foreign trade, agriculture, the finance system, and the services sectors in Russia.

Russian Deputy Minister for Economic Development Alexander Tsybulskiy led the Russian delegation with CCIRF President Sergey Katyrin.

In St. Petersburg on 26 May, PH team held a business forum with St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest chamber of commerce in the Russian Federation. St. Petersburg is home to many economic clusters and is also known as an industrial, cultural, logistical and pharmaceutical center.

St. Petersburg Forum attendees also conducted networking with their counterparts, with St. Petersburg businessmen presenting their priority industries with focus on the pharmaceutical cluster.

More cooperation areas ahead

On 26 May, PH delegation also met St. Petersburg’s Chairman of the Committee for External Relations Evgeny Grigoriev, who immediately expressed intent to help in the field of cheaper medicine and pharmaceuticals industry, and healthcare solutions.

“They are also advanced in marine and naval engineering, and offer training and apprenticeship to Filipinos, as well as in education scholarships in life science and research institutions which St. Petersburg is known for,” said Sec. Lopez.

The trade chief also confirmed that PH will also do industrial cooperation agreements to promote common interests in iron and steel, machineries, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, shipbuilding and ship repair, automotive, aerospace as well as in culture, arts and many more.

“The focus really is on the pharmaceutical cluster, which is one of the biggest industries in St. Petersburg and can be a strategic avenue to cooperate with the Philippines, specifically in support of the President’s health program,” he said.

Securing business climate

Sec. Lopez said that Russian businessmen “like a lot the strong leadership of President Duterte in his approach towards lawless elements,” adding that Russian businessmen “are ready to help.”

PH-Russia bilateral economic relations is in nascent stage, according to him. There is concrete intention to thoroughly explore the opportunities and potentials that arise from the capabilities and strengths of each other’s industries.

“This is just the beginning of our deep and strong partnership with Russia. They await with excitement the return of President Duterte to Russia and they will certainly extend more fields of cooperation, building on what we have started,” he concluded.