Historically, the Philippines is the first country that Russia established consular relations with in the Far East in 1817.
In recent years, diplomatic and trade relations of the two countries have been developing dynamically, including regular high level meetings between President Vladimir Putin and President Rodrigo Duterte. The Philippine President has visited Russia twice so far – on May 2017 and October 2019.
In the latter visit, Putin and Duterte signed agreements and memorandums in different areas of cooperation that would contribute to strengthening interaction in the field of trade, economy, science, culture and education.
“The current volume of mutual trade is rather small and to our point of view does not reflect the potential of both countries. Last year, the trade turnover reached US$1.122 billion – Russian export at US$659 million and import fr om the Philippines at US$427 million. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, in January to March of this year, bilateral trade has grown to 4.4 percent, equivalent to US$276.9 million – US$180.8 million exports vis-a-vis US$96.1 million imports,” the officials said.
Philippine fishery companies Bigfish Foods, Century Pacific Food, RDEX International and General Tuna have been accredited to supply their products to the Russian market. Likewise, four Russian poultry companies were accredited by the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines to export their products to the country. The government-owned United Grain Company considers the Philippine grain market as one of fast growing ones in the Southeast Asia.
“We assume that an implementation of understanding reached during the official visit of President Duterte to Russia last October will contribute to further develop the Russian-Philippine relations. The cooperation in the field of energy, information technology and pharmaceuticals is very prospective. Russia has a full cycle of energy production from extraction of energy resources to construction and distribution of electricity.”
Despite a recent development of renewable energy, the traditional energy is still very important in energy balance of many countries as the traditional energy has a very high resilience, they added.
In case the policy pushing for nuclear energy is approved, Russia could help the Philippines build its own atomic energy industry because only Russia has a full cycle of production nuclear energy from extraction of fuel to construction of nuclear power plant.
The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation or Rosatom is touted as the world leader in construction of energy reactor as well as the leader in uranium enrichment with its 36 percent share of world market. So far there is already a legal basis for cooperation between the two countries in this field.
Russia and the Philippines have also started cooperation in digital technology and cybersecurity. A globally known Russian company, Kaspersky Lab, is about to boost its presence in the Philippines. Along with other Russian IT companies, digitalization of municipality services such as tax declaration, passport and government ID processing, driver’s licenses or vehicle registration are in the works as this was proven effective in Russia during the lockdown.
Although Russians look more European than Asian, they nevertheless share much similarity to Filipinos by being family-oriented, largely Christian and lovers of music and entertainment.
Starting October 1, 2019, Filipinos may be granted a free e-visa to enter Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
E-visa is a single-entry visa and issued for 30 calendar days from the date of its issuance, allowing the visitor up to non-extendable eight days stay in Russia from the date of entry and leave only through checkpoints of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation wh ere they entered.