MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is planning to buy more petroleum products from Iran, which vowed to strengthen ties with the country after economic sanctions against it were lifted.
This was discussed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez with Iranian ambassador Mohammad Tanhaei during the latter’s recent courtesy call to the finance chief.
“The Iranian government...has expressed interest in working with the Philippines’ energy sector in the fields of oil exploration and the petroleum product trade,” the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement yesterday.
In return, Iran promised to source more bananas from the Philippines. “We do want to improve our relationship with Iran...,” Dominguez said.
Currently, the Philippines buy the bulk of its crude oil from Kuwait, accounting for 34.7 percent of total as of June this year, Department of Energy (DOE) figures showed.
It was followed by Saudi Arabia with 30.3 percent, United Arab Emirates (14.5 percent), Malaysia (7.8 percent), Russia (6.2 percent), Qatar (3.9 percent), Oman (1.4 percent) and Indonesia (one percent). Only 0.2 percent of crude oil comes from home producers, figures showed.
In January, sanctions against Tehran were lifted after it signed a deal with a group of developed nations led by the US, which effectively dismantle its uranium enrichment facilities feared being developed as nuclear weapons.
This, in turn, allowed Iran to produce and ship more oil and generate additional revenues in the process.
Aside from oil, DOF said Iran was also interested in pursuing infrastructure projects, particularly in power transmission and water purification projects.
More details about the economic cooperation may be stipulated in a framework the two countries will sign in the first week of November.
Diplomatic relations between Manila and Tehran were established on Jan. 22, 1964.
Iran has consistently supported the peace process in Mindanao and also backed the Philippines’ application for observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference.