By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
LIMA – Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed to immediately hike its importation of Philippine goods to $2.5 billion, way higher than its current $46-million worth of purchases.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said Russia has committed this huge importation in one single year after President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a bilateral meeting here where they participated in the APEC Leaders’ Meeting.
“They project to bring up imports from the Philippines to the tune of about $2.5 billion from $375 million,” said Lopez, who described the two leaders as having established “very good rapport immediately” during their first meeting.
Lopez said the Philippines has a huge trade deficit against Russia. In 2015, trade between the two countries reached $422 million. Of this figure, the Philippines imported $375 million, mostly oil products, as against Russia’s imports of only $46 million worth of agriculture items and beer.
According to Lopez, Russia, through its private sector, has committed to immediately increase importation of mostly agriculture products, particularly fruits.
“We can only look up, I mean, there is nowhere to go but up because it’s really a relationship that offers a lot of opportunities because there was almost nothing before when it comes to trade and investment with Russia,” he added.
Aside from the exponential increase in trade, both leaders also agreed to cooperate in other areas.
These include Russian government’s commitment to help in the country’s energy and infrastructure development, including projects in railways, monorails, port, light transport system, agriculture and tourism, machine engineering, hardware, and modernization of industrial machineries.
“We can expect more Russian tourists,” he said.
In addition, Putin also committed to work with the Philippine government to counter terrorism, illegal drugs, law enforcement, education, and finance.