PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte brought home yesterday from his trip to the Middle East business deals worth over $925 million.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the deals were signed between Filipino and Middle East businessmen
Abella added that the new investments would generate about 62,000 jobs.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez admitted that some of the deals had been years in the making but had been concluded under the Duterte administration.
The agreements included projects in pharmagenerics, property development, medical tourism, ports, warehouses, agri-industrial ecozones, tourism and the halal industry, according to Lopez.
During Duterte’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Lopez said Filipino and Saudi Arabian businessmen signed investment deals worth $469 million.
In Bahrain, memorandum of agreements worth $250 million were signed, Lopez said.
Several agreements were also slated for signing Sunday afternoon.
These included the Investment Potential Promotion Agreement, which provides “basic rights and guarantees” for investors from both the Philippines and Qatar.
It also includes identification of opportunities and cooperation in that field and ease of doing business.
“There has been a lot of work put into many legal and economic aspects of the negotiation. It is just our desire to finally put a completion into this negotiation and have a more meaningful agreement,” he said.
Lopez noted that this may open $1 billion investment funds from the Qatari Sovereign Fund, which he said has long been eyed for the Philippines.
The governments of Qatar and the Philippines also inked a long-anticipated deal about cooperation “on all important fields of health,” which includes joint activities with international health organizations, with particular focus on areas of research in healthcare and exchange of experts, scientists, and internships.
The governments also entered a memorandum of understanding to promote “bilateral exchanges” in culture and arts, notably on exhibits and translation of literary works.
Another agreement was signed to promote technical-vocational education between professionals and trainees of both countries.
During a Philippine-Qatar business forum here on Saturday, 13 projects worth $206 million were signed, he said.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the agreements signed included the establishment of an all-Filipino polyclinic that would serve both Filipinos and Qataris.
Earlier, Charito Plaza, director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, said most of the investment deals were for special economic zones in the Philippines.
There are 345 special economic and free trade zones in the Philippines, including Mindanao. Of these, 17 are agro-industrial zones, 65 manufacturing zones, 15 medical tourism zones, 178 information technology parks and 15 tourism zones.
Lopez said the Philippines signed an investment protection and promotion agreement with Qatar, as Qatar planned to put in $1 billion in investments in various Philippine economic sectors, including natural resources, commodities, energy, agriculture and infrastructure.
There are about 760,000 Filipino migrants working in Saudi Arabia, 60,000 in Bahrain and 250,000 in Qatar.
Duterte met with 6,000 Filipino migrants in the Qatari city of Lusail and promised them he would make what he called oligarchs in the Philippines, including tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan, pay their back taxes worth about P90 million from his Northern Tobacco Redrying Co,Inc.
“He has to pay. All of them have to pay,” he said.