MAKATI—Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez met with Azerbaijan Ambassador Tamerlan Garayev last 31 May to discuss trade opportunities between Azerbaijan (AZ) and the Philippines (PH).
“Our meeting with Consul Garayev is part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s strategy to seek out non-traditional trading partners. We see a lot complementation between our countries,” said Sec. Lopez.
PH is keen on exporting tropical fruits, like bananas and mangoes, to AZ. Exporting to the Eurasian country is also a boon for PH’s Halal industry, since its population is predominantly Muslim.
“Your country is famous for its mangoes,” said the Azerbaijan Ambassador who cited Jose Rizal as his childhood hero.
Meanwhile, PH sees AZ as an alternative source of fuel since oil and natural gas account for around 90 percent of Azerbaijan’s total exports. The country is also a transport hub for exports since it’s located near Georgia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine.
With only a 10M population and a 6.2% Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Ambassador Garayev said that his country needs more manpower for its tourism and agriculture industries. Since there are only 300 Filipinos in AZ, Sec. Lopez suggested that Filipinos fill these vacancies.
Both countries want to mutually develop education and tourism by having student/ teacher exchange programs and tourism promotions. The two countries will form a Joint Economic Commission to further these talks beginning with possible government to government transactions.
Current trade balance between PH and AZ is in favor of PH due to exports of the following: electronics; electrical and electronic machinery; almonds, fresh or dried, shelled. Azerbaijan is PH’s 172nd trading partner (out of 223), and 153rd export market (out of 216), and 171st import source (out of 198).