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