DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez led the business forum in Moscow last Thursday as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s official visit to Russia. (In photo L-R) DTI Usec. Rowel Barba, Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion, DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Russia Deputy Minister for Economic Development Alexander Tsybulskiy, DTI Usec. Nora Terrado, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russian Federation President Sergey Katyrin, and Atty. Mike Toledo.
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 had 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 have 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 is 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 that 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 Pena, Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol 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.”
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George Barcelon signed an agreement of cooperation with Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation led by its president, Sergey Katyrin. Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, and DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña served as witness to the signing ceremony.
300 delegates from Philippines and Russia attended the Moscow Business Forum which aims to strengthen economic relations between the two countries.
Through this state visit, Philippines were 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.