Trade, investment, defense and energy cooperation up in PGMA-Medvedev meeting

June 4, 2009 1:53 pm 

ST. PETERSBURG, June 4 –- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev will meet tomorrow (Friday, June 5, 2009) to discuss various issues of mutual interest to the Philippines and Russia, especially in the areas of trade and investments, defense and energy cooperation.

The bilateral meeting will be held at the Lenexpo, the venue of the 13th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, after the opening plenary session of the economic summit.

President Arroyo and her Russian counterpart, along with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, former German Chancellor Erhard Schroeder and Nobel Prize laureate in economics, Dr. Robert Mundell of Columbia University in the United States, will lead the forum’s opening day discussions of the global economic crisis, the lessons learned from it and the way forward for the world economy.

The President is the first Asian head of state to address the St Petersburg forum.

Before leaving the Philippines last week for the ASEAN-Korea Commemorative Summit on the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-Korea dialogue relations and thence to Moscow and St. Petersburg, President Arroyo said she was looking forward to discussing with President Medvedev and other Russian officials various initiatives that could enhance Philippine-Russian relations and cooperation.

She said her Russian visit would also undoubtedly “enhance the growing engagement of Russia in Asia, especially with regional organizations like ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the APEC (Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation).”

The Arroyo-Medvedev meeting is also expected to touch on the growing Filipino community in Russia. Figures from the Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) showed that as of September 2008, there were 5,200 Filipinos in Russia, or double the 2,600 reported in 2007.

The Filipino community in Russia is composed of former Soviet scholars who have decided to remain in Russia, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the oil and gas industries, domestic workers, and a good number of professionals working with large Russian corporate entities and multinational corporations (MNCs).

Since diplomatic relations were established with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1976, the Philippines has concluded 22 agreements with Russia on various concerns of interest to both countries.

After the dissolution of the USSR, the Russian Federation took over the responsibilities and obligations arising from its bilateral relations with the Philippines under the agreements.

Considered as among the highlights of the relations between the two countries were the increase in Philippine-Russian bilateral trade, and enhancement of the interaction between the two countries in various fields, including agriculture, energy, tourism, education, culture, sports, science and technology, parliamentary exchanges, and defense cooperation.

Many of these initiatives were firmed up during the visit to the Philippines of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in August 2007. (PNA)

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