PH, Russia eye better trade, joint fight vs drug trafficking
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Russia have signed agreements aimed at enhancing trade and economic cooperation, as well as strengthening the fight against illegal drug trafficking.
The Agreement on the Establishment of a Philippines-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation aims to identify measures to facilitate the flow of bilateral trade and investments.
The deal, signed by Philippine Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Russian Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev, also seeks the participation of the private sector and economists to assist in efforts to bolster economic cooperation between the two governments.
In a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit on Wednesday, November 18, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had nothing but praises for the economic growth under President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.
This, he said, made Russia want to scale up cooperation on energy, telecommunications, and transport infrastructure.
He also invited Aquino to attend Moscow’s expo on transportation in 2016, as he said Russia wants to intensify bilateral ties with the Philippines at diplomatic, business, and entrepreneurial fronts.
Aquino, for his part, invited Russia for enhanced cooperation in the areas of Information Technology and Business Process Management, as he promised more exchanges in the future, citing the Philippine-Russia business council in Cebu.
The two countries also signed a Memorandum between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Service of the Russian Federation for Narcotics Traffic Control on Cooperation in Combating New Psychoactive Substances.
The Memorandum aims to solve problems on the production, spread, and abuse of “new psychoactive substances” or those designed to replace banned substances but have the same effects as marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy, among others.
The Memorandum complements the 2007 agreement between the two nations to combat the illicit trafficking of “narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, and their precursors. “
Palace Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma, in a note, said the Russian Prime Minister told Aquino they want “open avenues for military and defense cooperation,” citing their similar agreements with other countries.
The details remain unclear, as the maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) loom in the region.
While Russia is an ally of China, which has claimed most, if not all, of the contested waters, the Federation has not categorically backed its East Asian ally on the issue. (READ: Power play in the South China Sea)
The Philippines, meanwhile, has been a long-time ally of the United States, which maintains a safe distance from Russia – except on the fight against terrorism and ISIS.
During Wednesday’s meeting, President Aquino personally conveyed his condolences to Medvedev on the crash of Metrojet flight 9268 in Egypt, which Russia claimed, was brought down by an improvised explosive device. – Rappler.com
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