NAMED “Queen City of the South,” Cebu also earned the recognition as the furniture capital of the Philippines, contributing over 60% of the country’s exports.
Living up to its reputation as it consistently and steadily brings in a substantial percentage share of the Philippine’s furniture export sales, Cebu has all the potentials of becoming a major player in the international scene.
Cebu is currently serving the North American, European, Middle Eastern, and Asian markets, thus making it a furniture resource of great promise.
Cebuano furniture manufacturers are known for their superior design capabilities and craftsmanship, playing a big role in promoting and establishing Cebu as the “Design Destination of Asia.”
Cebu manufacturers make use of indigenous materials such as sea grass, abaca (manila hemp), and coconut twigs mixed with wood, bamboo, rattan, stone, and wrought iron. Furniture companies also use animal skins, shells, seeds, leaves, tree barks, and even termite mounds. They have started producing eco-friendly furniture pieces.
All these Cebu-made furniture items will be showcased in the 2nd Philippine Russian Business Forum and Exhibition come Oct. 21-24 at the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City.
The Russian Federation, which also has the world’s largest timber reserves, may likewise promote its wood furniture industry in the said gathering.
Russia’s trade with the Philippines slowly crumbled starting in 2005 when the world plunged into one of the worst financial crises ever.
As the declension continued for three years at an average rate of 14.55%, the two countries saw the need to revitalize their gradually failing trade relationship. Thus, the 1st Philippine Russian Business Forum was conceptualized and held in August of 2009 — coincidentally, the same year the bilaterial trade zoomed back to life.
Russia is the Philippines’ largest trading partner in Eastern Europe with the highest total trade recorded at $396.360 million way back in 2004, only to see it fall in 2005 and bit by bit the succeeding three years.
The Philippine’s trade with Russia inched back near the 300-million-dollar mark at the close of 2009, arriving at $289.383 million from $165.598 million in 2008, increasing by 74.75%.
Philippine exports to Russia also increased by 15.21%, reaching $39.086 million in 2009 compared to $33.925 million recorded a year earlier.
With this renewed improvement, the country’s trade with Russia is expected to further expand after the second staging of the bilateral Business Forum this year which now includes a Philippine Russian Trade Exhibition, Art Show, Photo Exhibit, and Cultural Dances as well.
Main highlight in the opening ceremonies of this year’s Forum is the unveiling of famous Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s bust at the Sugbo Cultural Center.
Tolstoy is regarded as among the world’s greatest of novelist. His famous works include the masterpieces “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace,” which is one of the greatest novels ever written.
Following the success of the 1st PRBF last year which was focused on RP-Russia economic relations, organizers decided to include the Exhibition in the 2010 event to further boost their capacity to facilitate trade between the Philippines and the Russian Federation.
“Tourism is the entry for trade and investment,” Honorary Consul of Russia to the Visayas Armi Lopez Garcia quoted herself saying in last year’s forum and added: “This year, we take a step further by focusing on trade and investment, and the expansion of tourism.“
The exhibition will serve as an educational point of exchange of cultural and economic backgrounds of both countries. It will showcase the various trade opportunities in both the Philippine and Russian sides.
“We hope to generate more trade opportunities and strengthen relations between Russia and the Philippines through this exhibition,” Garcia said. “This will be a good entry point for the Russians not only to the Philippine market but to the ASEAN and even the rest of the world, and vise versa.”
Lined up for exhibition are products and services related to tourism and wellness; trade promotion and development; mining and energy; education and culture; labor, placement services and outsourcing; and retirement facilities and real estate development.
Exhibits for tourism and wellness will showcase M.I.C.E. facilities and destinations, tourist attractions, and health and wellness products as well as medical tourism-related services.
THE Philippines has the potential to become the most popular tourist destination in the Asia-Pacific region — and it will be as soon as the government puts up more attractive infrastructure aside from just improving or renovating existing tour spots and sites.
This was the assessment of Nikita Osharov, Philippine Russian Business Assembly’s (PRBA) tourism committee chairman.
Osharov said the country needs more resorts, water themeparks, and intelligent transport systems and has to decongest the traffic and improve its water and sewerage systems to make itself known as a complete tourist destination.
As Russia is known to have the largest reserves of mineral and energy resources in the world and is the world’s leading energy superpower, the visiting exhibitors are expected to bring in new ideas and current trends on the Russian energy market.
Filipinos, on the other hand, aside from their furniture industry will also be promoting toys and housewares, gold and silver jewelries, fashion and accessories, electronics, information and technology services, construction materials, food and beverages, automotive parts, sports footwear and travel bags, and twine and cordage products to the Russian market.
Interested parties can check on the local and Russian property market for a new home, a bigger place to stay or a comfy retirement abode in the exhibits for retirement facilities and real estate development.
The various aspects of both Filipino and Russian education, as well as culture, will also be featured in the trade fair, including English language training and arts and crafts.
Among the highlights of the Philippine Russian Business Forum and Trade Exhibition is the one-on-one business matching and meeting between exhibitors and investors/buyers which is instrumental in the procuring of trade.
In the Philippine Russian Art Show, the paintings of celebrated Russian painter-sculptor Gregory Pototsky will serve as the Russian delegation’s main attraction.
Russian and Filipino world-class photographers who have already signified their participation in the Photo Exhibit include Alexander Efremov, Evgeny Globenko, Konstantin Kokoshkin, Nick Degtyarev, Bob Lim, and Jan Gonzales.
Expected to attend the four-day forum are investors, real estate developers, businessmen/decision makers, exporters and importers, national government agencies, and local government units both from Russia and the Philippines.
Participants will also be toured to cement factories, food manufacturing plants, development areas, beer brewery, export furniture companies, jewelry makers and real estate properties among other industrial sites in the whole province of Cebu.
The 2nd Philippine-Russian Business Forum is organized by the Philippine Russian Business Assembly, Embassy of the Russian Federation, and the Philippine Exhibits and Themeparks Corp. (PETCO).
It is being held in cooperation with the Province of Cebu, City of Mandaue, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cebu Business Club, and the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry.