Russia announced on Wednesday their goal of establishing “profound and long-standing joint ventures” with the Philippines as they met with Filipino companies, particularly with San Miguel Corp. and Udenna Group, for infrastructure projects particularly airport, railways, shipbuilding, automobiles, power, pharmaceutical and medical equipment supplies, and agriculture products.
Alexey Gruzdev, Russia’s deputy minister of trade and industry, who led the 15-man business mission told a press conference that Russian firms have met with local government officials particularly Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and SMC President Ramon S. Ang and the Udenna Infrastructure of businessman Dennis Uy, among other firms during the two-day mission.
Grusdev stressed that Russia would like build “profound” partnerships with the Philippines, not just trading, but with the long term goal of making the Philippines a base or production hub for Russian manufacturing firms.
“We want a more complex, not just buy and sell, but profound, and long standing joint ventures,” said Gruzdev noting that investments in aviation, rails, and pharmaceuticals require training and deeper cooperation.
Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev expressed hope some cooperation agreements may be signed during President Rodrigo’s second visit to Russia on October 1-5.
Transportation, particularly railways, is among the mission members key interest considering their expertise in mass rail transport having built 85,000 kilometers of railways. They are also a major manufacturer of rolling stock.
The meeting with SMC was largely because the company has an airport project, he said. SMC’s Bulacan airport has been given the go signal by the government.
The Russians are also interested in shipbuilding which could be one reason for the meeting with the Udenna Group, which is also engaged in logistics business and a proponent for a new Davao airport.
Russian firms, he said, can supply aviation equipment such as navigational equipment, among others.
In pushing for higher engagement and more diversified trade with the Philippines, Gruzdev noted that economic relations between the two countries have not really developed that much. Last year, however, trade grew 100 percent to total bilateral trade $1.2 billion but the balance of trade was heavily in favor of Russia with $800 million of exports to the Philippines for the supply of mineral gas which accounts for 40 percent of total export. Moscow also exports metals, timber and agricultural products to Manila.
On the other hand, the Philippines export $470 million in manufactured goods and agricultural products to Russia.
To further boost economic relations, they have also identified pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and supplies that they hope would result in contracts and joint ventures.
On aviation, Gruzdev said they are looking into defense equipment supply to the Philippine government and for civil aviation as well.
“Russia is producer of aircraft and helicopters,” he said. Russia is also big in shipbuilding and offers patrol boats.
“Our country is committed to help Philippines increase its defense capabilities,” he said adding they can also help in terms of training and exercises under mutual cooperation.
On agriculture, he expressed hopes that new contracts may be reached on fishery and grains noting that Russia supplied 1 million tons of grains last year while four Philippine firms supply marine products last year.
In addition, Gruzdev said they would look into the country’s incentives and regulations regime to ensure easier market access.