Philippines – Russia $1.6 billion bilateral trade in 2011 push greater trade, investment

Philippines and Russia are seeking new ways to expand trade and investment, officials from both sides said, considering there is much room for improving the countries' $1.6 billion bilateral trade in 2011.

Russian Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev, honorary chairman of the Philippine-Russia Business Assembly (PRBA), said in a speech at the business matching forum on the sidelines of the Manila FAME exhibition that travel, supply chain, food trade, education, and information technology were just some of the areas that could benefit from sustained bilateral meetings.

"Long awaited for the two of us are solutions for secure supply chains and establishing direct routes of communication between the Philippines and the Far East of the Russian Federation. They would not only enable Manila with the access to the riches of Russia but at the same time would equip it with alternative means of access to the markets of Central Asia and Western Europe involving Russia's transit potential," Kudashev said.

On food security, the envoy said that combining the Philippines' agricultural production and Russia's supply chain solutions as well as advanced space imaging for disaster risk management could be "mutually beneficial." Also "enchanting," he said, is the prospect of innovations from establishing linkages in education and technology.

"The recent establishment here in Manila of the regional office of the Russian NODA Software Company would prove that there is an ample space for cooperation," he said.

Consul to the Russian Federation Armi Garcia, honorary president of PRBA, said there was increased interest among Russian tourists to explore the Philippines, renewing bilateral talks on the possible expansion of an air services agreement to include direct Manila-Moscow flights.

There are presently chartered Moscow-Cebu City flights under the air deal signed in 2009.

"I am optimistic there will be increased bilateral cooperation through what I call the 'Movement 3.' It starts with tourism and culture exchange and when there is some familiarity with the Philippines and what it can offer, then comes trade development, and then investments," Garcia said.

Yevgenia Konkol, chair of the Russia-Philippine Business Council (RPBC), said there are 39 Russian enterprises cooperating with or at least in discussion with Philippine counterparts.

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