The Philippine business delegation signed an investment agreement worth more than $4.26 billion with Saudi business leaders on Thursday at the sidelines of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s attendance at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Gulf Cooperation Council (ASEAN-GCC) Summit in Saudi Arabia.
President Marcos said during the roundtable meeting with business leaders that more than 15,000 Filipino people will benefit from the billion-investment agreement in terms of employment opportunities in the construction industry and human resource services.
“With an estimated value of over USD 120 million, the agreements that will be signed today are set to benefit more than 15,000 Filipinos in training and employment opportunities across a wide range of professions in the construction industry,” President Marcos said in his speech.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Saudi’s Al Rushaid Petroleum Investment Company and Samsung Engineering NEC Co. Ltd. signed with Philippines’ EEI Corp. for construction export services worth $120 million.
DTI also reported that Saudi’s Al-Jeer Human Resources Company-ARCO signed with the Association of Philippine Licensed Agencies for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for human resource services agreement worth $3.7 billion.
The DTI added that Saudi’s Maharah Human Resources Company inked an investment agreement worth $191 million each to Philippines’ Staffhouse International Resources Corporation and E-GMP International Corporation for human resource services.
President Marcos acknowledged the valuable contributions of the companies that took part in the effort to strengthen the bilateral ties between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, which served as home to over one million Filipino migrant workers.
“To our current and future business partners, I hope that this meeting has served as an excellent platform for building greater and closer partnerships between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” President Marcos said.
As part of his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Marcos met with some Arab businessmen through the roundtable meeting organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Saudi Ministry of Investment led by Minister Khalid Al-Falih.
President Marcos noted that the meeting was timely as the Philippine economy continues its high growth trajectory with gross domestic product at 7.6 percent in 2022, which is the fastest growth rate recorded since 1976.
The President also emphasized that the Philippines has posted $9.2 billion in net inflows of foreign direct investments in 2022.
“Our financial and banking sectors are healthy and robust. Our credit rating continues to receive stable and positive investment grades,” President Marcos told the business community.
“Indeed, the Philippines’ economic achievements in the past year reflect the sustained efforts of this administration, supported by the private sector, in fostering an enabling business environment, cutting red tape, lowering the cost of doing business, and improving competitiveness,” he added.
President Marcos also assured the business community that the Philippines will remain steadfast in its commitment to continuously support current and prospective Saudi investors as he emphasized that the Philippine government has amended existing laws to further open its economy to foreign investments.
Among the initiatives of the government are the Foreign Investments Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Public Service Act, and the Renewable Energy (RE) Act, which aim to attract more foreign investors in the country’s telecommunications, port operations, transportation, and clean energy sectors.
“Moreover, foreign investors are able to enjoy fiscal incentives made available through the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act. I urge you to further engage with my Economic Team to learn more about such benefits,” the President said.
“We also stand ready to welcome you to our tropical country so you may personally see what a globally competitive Philippines can offer,” he added.
The President also highlighted the Maharlika Investment Fund, which is the first ever sovereign investment fund of the Philippines designed to drive long-term economic development through increased investments in high-impact sectors.
President Marcos said that he is looking forward not only to benefiting from Saudi investments, but also from its extensive experience in managing similar funds. He also continued to re-affirm the country’s readiness for deeper economic partnerships both in Southeast Asian regions and its neighbors in the Gulf.
“We hope that the Philippines will be your chosen gateway to the ASEAN and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, economies, which is earlier spoken about. And, on that note, I hope that the Saudi business leaders present here today will further make it happen in the Philippines,” President Marcos said.
President Marcos added that he hopes the meeting will pave the way for the renewed partnership between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia and for the first of many more business exchanges in the future.
For his part, Saudi Ministry of Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that they are looking forward to partner with the Philippines and boost the Philippine-Saudi Arabia partnership in terms of finance, energy and petrochemicals, industry and logistics, tourism, real estate development, labor and agriculture.
“We view the Philippines as not only a critical large company that has grown – very fast country that has grown – very fast, which is important in its own right,” Al-Falih told President Marcos and the rest of the Philippine business delegation.
“We also see the Philippines as a bridge to the ASEAN region and to the rest of Asia and I trust that you consider Saudi Arabia as well, your excellency, your strategic entry point to the Middle East,” the Ministry of Investment added.
President Marcos is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to attend the ASEAN-GCC Summit. |PND
Photo Courtesy of PCO