The Phillipines looking for close cooperation with India:Ambassador

Ankur Bhattacharya

Kolkata, 8 February : As the bilateral trade between India and the Phillipines have touched an all time high of 2.45 billion USD last year, the Amabassador of this Souith Asian island nation in India has called for more cooperation between India and the Phillipines for the development of pharmaceutical and auto component industries in his country where ‘the Indian expertise could be utilised for a speedy all round economic growth of the region’.
Participating in two separate interactive sessions with members of the city’s premier Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Indutry (MCCI) and the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce (CCC) here today at the conclusion of his two day visit to the city, Ambassador of the Phillipines in India Ramon S Bagatsing said in view of the great danger posed by the deadly Corona Virus in South Asia along with the rest of the world, claimining over 650 lives so far in China and several other countries, a hugely concerned Fillipino government wanted to seek assistance from India through close copperation in the phamaceurtical sector to deal with the unprecedented heath hazards effectively .
‘Since Pharmacetical is a big and developed industry in India,whcih we are not, our government wants your cooperation to provide cheap high quality drugs for our people and proper guidance and help on how to deal with deadly diseases’, the Fillipino Ambassador said.
Also expressing his views that India was the second largest manufacturers of automobiles in Asia after Japan,Bagatsing hoped that India auto component sectors with access to latest technology of Japan could join hands with the Filipino companies for manufacturing similar products in his country too.
He said the Philippines had only 77 km of railroads and the government wanted to increase the railway network to at least 1,200 km through all the 7500 odd islands.
‘We want to build our railway network through bilateral deals and soft loans from the Government, in which the Chinese are now far ahead’, he said.
Also underscroing the need to develop the people to people contacts between the two Asian neughbours through tourism, Ambassador Bagatsing said the Phillipines Consulate in Chennai had recently issued over 10,800 visas to Indian tourists visiting the Philippines of whom about 1,500 were from for Kolkata.
‘Since last year, though there was a growth of 10 per cent in the number of Indian tourists to the Philippines,we are looking for more Indians to come and visit our country which Is dotted with numerous beauriful and very scenis islands’,he said and hoped that several MoUs would soon be signed between the Tourism Departments of both the countries to generate more tourist traffic.
Moreover, he said,recently as many as 2.8 million Indian tourists visited Thailand while only 120,000 Indians visited the Philippines. As there is good connectivity between India and Thailand in terms of direct flights,we also plan to operate direct flights between India and Philippines by December 2020, the Ambassador said.
Also speaking on both the occasions the Cobnsul General of the Phillipines in Kolkata Deepak Kumar Khemka said Philippines was one of the oldest trading partners of India and the visit of President Ramnath Kovind to the Philippines last year had further strengthened ties.
In 2017,about 100,000 Indian tourists visited the Philippines, while only about 25,000 Filipinos visited India, he said.
Welcoming the guests in their respective Chamber MCCI immediate past President and noted industrialist Vishal Jhajharia and CCC President Madhav Surekha said the economic relations between the two countries had grown rapidly in recent years although trade was still remained modest given the potential that existed ‘between us’.
Accornig to Jhajharia,a number of growth drivers suggested that a major and sustained growth in two-way trade and investment might come in future,helped by the conclusion of the India-ASEAN Trade in Services and Investment Agreements.
Stating that collaboration between the two countries in BPO sector had grown exponentially in the last ten years,both Jhajharia and Surekha said a number of Indian IT companies like WIPRO, TCS, Larsen and Toubro,Infotech, Innodata,Genpact, Infosys and Tech Mahindra had set uptheir BPO units in the phillipines recently.
‘This close partnership in IT and BPO has become a win-win situation for both the countries’, they opined.