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Four hundred delegates from the Philippines and Russia attended the Moscow Business Forum which aims to strengthen economic relations between the two countries.
The state visit to Moscow was a much anticipated trip by the business sector after seeing the number of people who attended. One factor could be because of Russia’s mystic charm. I have been to St. Petersburg before on a cruise with our whole clan and I found it interesting. But Moscow was different and to my surprise, it was a very clean place, a beautiful city and has surprisingly excellent food. The Four Seasons Hotel where President Duterte and his party stayed has the best location since it is in the Red Square of Moscow.
But this is what really happened in Moscow: the President decided to cut his trip short after barely landing for 24 hours. Sen. Win Gatchalian, Sec. Mon Lopez and other government officials were there for less than 24 hours and had just arrived from another government engagement in Vietnam. While the rest of the business delegation who arrived in advance, including us, gathered in the lobby while waiting for the official decision.
The President did the right thing – which is to go home and declare martial law. For a while I thought this was an over reaction, but come to think of it, when our child is rushed to the hospital due to an accident, it would be difficult for us not to take the first flight home. This shows the President takes his role as the father of the nation seriously.
In spite of not having PRRD with us the whole state visit, we pursued the business engagements to fortify economic alliances with our Russian counterparts. In the Philippines-Russia Business Forum last Thursday held in Moscow, more than 400 businessmen from the Philippines and Russia attended. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez led the forum. Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol and other trade officials also attended. This was supported by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russia Federation and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (CCIRF).
During a presentation, Sec. Lopez reiterated the President’s statement on investments to the Philippines, “He will also encourage you to ride on the growth momentum of this country that this administration is having at the moment. So come on and ride the growth story of the Philippines.”
Through this state visit, the Philippines business sector was able to sign agreements with its counterparts. One of these agreements is between CCIRF, led by its president Sergey Katyrin, and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by George Barcelon, which extends the cooperation of both parties to achieve strategic goals and areas of partnership for economic and trade and investment.
George said, “He (CCIRF president Katyrin) encouraged more coordination with our two chambers, fostering closer relationship between our countries. This should hopefully lead to more trade.” He added that companies on nickel tail refining, fiber glass and polyepoxy rebar technology, power related turbine blades and other industries joined the business forum.
Russia introduced several products to the Filipino delegates including airplane on water transport, hydrofoil vessels, low cost electric car, material handling equipment and power plants.
Business Russia and DTI also signed an agreement of cooperation to enhance trade and investment promotion activities. Additionally, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry led by Rex Daryanani signed an agreement with Indian Business Alliance in Moscow. Rex shared that this is the first partnership of FICCI with another Indian business organization outside the Philippines. Rex added, “This is the first among the many more to come globally. This will allow Filipino Indian businessmen to easily tie up and partner with Indian businessmen all over the world.”
In totality, $875 million worth of business deals were signed during the business forum which I and the other Cabinet secretaries witnessed.
With these kind of state visits, we hope to strengthen our ties with our foreign comrades. These will be an avenue for economic relations, diplomatic partnerships, and security and intelligence cooperation.