Fri. Jun 25th, 2021

Philippine-Russian relations are making strides over the past few years, particularly under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, marking a “dramatic reinvigoration” in several areas of cooperation, including on trade, defense, and security.

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“From being at the margins of Philippine foreign policy, attention has shifted with the aim of establishing a robust, comprehensive, and mutually beneficial partnership with Russia founded on shared interests, sovereign equality, and pragmatism. Under the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we have seen a dramatic reinvigoration of Philippine-Russia relations,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Elizabeth Buensuceso said in a virtual conference to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the two nations’ diplomatic relations on Tuesday.

In just five years, 30 agreements were signed with Russia in the fields of defense, security, military-technical cooperation, mutual legal assistance, extradition, nuclear energy, transport, higher education, intellectual property, agriculture, trade, tourism, and nuclear medicine, among others.

Their defense cooperation received a big boost under a 2017 agreement between the Department of National Defense and Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

And while this deal already expanded the two nations’ cooperation, she said there is still a “vast potential for collaboration” to explore, including on counter-terrorism and cyber-security, as well as combatting cyber-terrorism and drug trafficking.

On economic cooperation, Buensuceso said the total trade between Manila and Moscow 10 years ago doubled from $486.3 million to $862.8 million in 2020, making Russia the Philippines’ 19th trading partner out of 224 countries.

Although the pandemic caused the bilateral trade turnover to shrink to less than $1 billion in 2020, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said this figure “cannot be considered as an adequate match to the potential we have in our economic cooperation.”

On their agriculture cooperation, Manila made good progress in exporting its products to Russia, including 15 healthy, organic, and ethically harvested coconut food products.

“The Philippines now has more products in the mainstream Russian market, both under the Russian brand and under Philippine brands. The Philippines looks forward to more collaborative activities with Russia. The pandemic has not stopped us from enhancing our economic cooperation,” she said. SOVEREIGNPH

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