The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) hosted the inaugural meeting of the Philippines – Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC) on 28 April 2017 in Manila. DTI Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo and Russian Ministry of Economic Development (MED) Deputy Minister Alexander V. Tsybulskiy led the meeting. In preparation for the visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to Russia this May, outcomes of the JCTEC lay the groundwork and serve as impetus for realizing huge potentials in bilateral economic relations.

DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez shakes hands with Russian Deputy Minister for Economic Development Alexander Tsybulskiy on the sidelines of the 1st PH-RF JCTEC. With them are DTI Undersecretary and PH JCTEC Co-Chair Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev.

Discussions built on the preliminary Co-Chairs Meeting between DTI and MED leads last 26 January 2017 in Manila where concrete agreements and initiatives were tabled to operationalize greater economic ties with Russia. The 1st JCTEC meeting – as the formal bilateral mechanism for discussions of trade, investment and economic cooperation matters – tackled economic cooperation initiatives in areas such as trade, investments, industry (e.g., iron and steel and aviation), peaceful use of nuclear energy, higher education, energy, information and communications technology, intellectual property, agriculture, transportation, science and technology, tourism, and labor.

“With President Duterte’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy, DTI leads strengthened bilateral engagements with non-traditional partners, in this case Russia,” says Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez on the sidelines of the JCTEC. The mechanism is expected to boost bilateral trade and investment figures and the Philippines looks forward to tapping vast opportunities in the Russian market especially with heightened awareness of the Eurasian Economic Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) – under which the Philippines is a beneficiary – to enable Philippine exports to penetrate the Russian market at advantageous tariff levels.

Moreover, recognizing private sector support for the JCTEC, the Philippines-Russia Business Forum was held in 27 April 2017 as part of the JCTEC program. The Forum provided opportunity to gain better understanding of and explore opportunities in each other’s markets. Top tier Russian business delegates met with Philippine business counterparts to ensure continued and improved business-to-business partnerships.

The JCTEC was established in 18 November 2015 under the Agreement signed during bilateral talks on the sidelines of the 23rd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Manila. The JCTEC was convened following the entry into force of the Agreement in 18 November 2016.