Seeing the opportunities in the Philippines, the Czech Republic said it is organizing visits to the country involving high-ranking government officials and business delegation for possible partnerships on defense, agriculture and other areas.

“The opportunities are here. We just need to grab them and I’m pleased to mention that just in the next year, we will start here with the visit of the foreign committee of our parliament on so much important defense and security issues of the regional geopolitics,” Czech Republic Ambassador to the Philippines Karel Hejč said as he presented his credentials to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday.

“But later on in the year, we plan on bringing our Minister of Agriculture to Manila and to the Philippines where we want to — naturally, our ministers travel accompanied with business delegations. So, carefully selected companies that are interested in doing business with the Philippines, with the Filipino companies, and investing in Philippines.”

With Czech Republic’s geographic position in Europe and its role in past regional conflicts, it was able to enhance and develop its defense and security industry, making it one of the producers of the finest war instruments, arms and ammunition in the world, Hejč said.

And starting with small tractors used in agriculture, the country also manufactures fighter jets, airplanes and other equipment, that made its defense manufacturing sector Czech Republic’s flagships industry. Aside from producing war materiel, the country also offers cooperation in training exercises, maintenance, upgrades, among others, according to Hejč.

“There is a lot. We certainly don’t have the time for all that now but as Manila will be hosting a huge fair in September next year, I will be very happy to invite you to come to see the presentation of the selected manufacturers that will be represented in that fair,” he told the President.

“And, if you will have some time during your visit in the Czech Republic, it will be also a pleasure to show you some of the industries that are interested in working with your Armed Forces, with your Coast Guard, et cetera, et cetera.”

President Marcos told the Czech envoy that his government is prioritizing agriculture along with other areas to transform the Philippine economy.

Defense and security is also a major thrust for the administration, he said, considering a very thorny regional problem that the country is facing.

“Your country has already been of assistance to us in proposing some vessels that we could use for the securing of our maritime waters, our maritime territory. And as you must know that this is becoming a very thorny problem that we are facing,” said Marcos.

“Not only the Philippines but I think the entire region, even extending up to the Indo-Pacific. So, there’s much that we need to attend to but I think that if we are able to have close partners and alliances, that we’ll always be a very important part of our foreign policy.”

The Philippines and Czech Republic established their formal diplomatic relations on October 5, 1973. 

Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala arrived in the Philippines for an official visit in April this year.

In terms of trade, Czech Republic ranked as the Philippines’ 39th trading partner, 28th export market, and 47th import supplier last year, with total bilateral trade amounting to US$303.21 million. 

Among the Philippine top exports are storage units, semiconductor devices manufactured from materials on consignment basis, digital monolithic integrated circuits, other sports footwear with outer soles of rubber or plastic, electrical and electronic machinery, and equipment and parts.

Top imports, on the other hand, include materials, accessories and imported supplies for the manufacture of dice of any material, bearing housings, incorporating ball or roller bearings, other apparatus for carrier-current line systems for digital line systems, revolvers and pistols, electrical and electronic machinery, equipment, and parts. 

As of December last year, there are an estimated 4,864 Filipinos in the Czech Republic, with the majority working in the processing industry, automotive industry, repairs of appliances, manufacturing, IT communications, real estate, health, wellness, and household service. | PND

Photo Courtesy of PCO