PH, In­dia sign four agree­ments; Duterte keen on cheap medicines

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By ARGYLL CYRUS B. GEDUCOS

The Philip­pines and In­dia signed four agree­ments in var­i­ous ar­eas at the side­lines of the 31st As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tion (ASEAN) Sum­mit and re­lated sum­mits Mon­day night.

The sign­ing was held dur­ing the bi­lat­eral meet­ing of

Pres­i­dent Duterte and In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi at the Philippine In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­ter (PICC).

Ac­cord­ing to In­dian Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­istry spokesper­son Preeti Saran, the four agree­ments signed were in the ar­eas of de­fense and lo­gis­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion; agri­cul­ture; mi­cro, small, and medium en­ter­prises (MSMEs); and for col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the In­dian Coun­cil of World Af­fairs (ICWA) and the For­eign Ser­vice In­sti­tute of Philip­pines.

In his Twit­ter ac­count, Modi said he had a pro­duc­tive meet­ing with Duterte, who also serves as chair­man of this year’s ASEAN Sum­mit.

“Had a pro­duc­tive meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte. We had ex­ten­sive dis­cus­sions on en­hanc­ing In­dia-Philip­pines bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially in trade, busi­ness and cul­ture,” Modi said.

Modi’s three-day Philippine visit to par­tic­i­pate in the ASEAN Sum­mit is the first prime min­is­te­rial visit from In­dia to the Philip­pines in 36 years.

“Pres­i­dent Duterte and Prime Min­is­ter Modi had an ex­cel­lent meet­ing. Pres­i­dent [Duterte] said he’d like to have very good re­la­tions with In­dia,” Saran said. In­vest­ment on cheaper meds For his part, Duterte said he would like to main­tain and im­prove the Philip­pines’ re­la­tions with In­dia.

Duterte said he also wants to dis­cuss trade re­la­tions fur­ther with In­dia and, most es­pe­cially, on medicine. He said medicines from In­dia are re­ally af­ford­able to buy.

The Pres­i­dent also told Modi that he wants the Prime Min­is­ter to visit the Philip­pines again in the fu­ture to in­vest on medicine.

“We want to dis­cuss trade re­la­tions fur­ther and es­pe­cially, the most im­por­tant one is that – I’m happy that you’re here be­cause we can’t find the medicines, and you have it [in] In­dia [where] peo­ple who [can] re­ally af­ford to buy it,” Duterte said.

He said there might be In­dian in­vestors who may be in­ter­ested in seek­ing a busi­ness ven­ture in the Philip­pines in pro­duc­ing more af­ford­able medicines.

“We would [be] happy to see you build­ing an in­vest­ment that would in­clude the medicines,” Duterte said.

“I’m more in­ter­ested, re­ally, in the medicines be­cause we are a poor coun­try,” he added.

“And if there is an in­vestor that could be in­ter­ested, an In­dian ci­ti­zen of yours who would want to ven­ture in our place, we would be happy,” he con­tin­ued.

Duterte also lauded the In­dian-made Mahin­dra cars, which are be­ing used by the Philippine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP).

“It’s the one that’s be­ing used and there are a lot of them – al­most 1,000 and it’s good and it’s be­ing used now. They are out­side, they are guard­ing this place,” Duterte told Modi.

“These are the things that would in­ter­est us re­ally. There’s just a need for us to talk fur­ther and I might just send my sec­re­tary of Fi­nance and Agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary, and the Depart­ment of Trade, and the Depart­ment of Health,” he said.

Duterte in In­dia Modi, mean­while, in­vited Duterte to at­tend and visit In­dia for the 2018 ASEANIn­dia Com­mem­o­ra­tive Sum­mit, along with other ASEAN lead­ers.

“The Prime Min­is­ter took the op­por­tu­nity to in­vite Pres­i­dent Duterte for the [2018] com­mem­o­ra­tive sum­mit that will be held next year which Pres­i­dent Duterte gladly ac­cepted, as have other ASEAN lead­ers,” Saran said.

But it was re­ported that Duterte did not give a def­i­nite an­swer, just say­ing that he will be vis­it­ing In­dia when the right time comes.

“In God’s will, I will be there,” Duterte re­port­edly re­sponded.

The ASEAN-In­dia Com­mem­o­ra­tive Sum­mit is said to be a mega event that will mark In­dia’s in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of the “Act East pol­icy” aimed at the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion.

The Act East or Look East pol­icy is In­dia’s ef­fort to cul­ti­vate ex­ten­sive eco­nomic and strate­gic re­la­tions with the na­tions of South­east Asia in order to bol­ster its stand­ing as a re­gional power and a coun­ter­weight to the strate­gic in­flu­ence of China.

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