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Middle East countries to invest $650M in PHL

President Duterte will witness the signing of several memorandums of understanding (MOU) for the $650 million in investment pledges secured by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) from Gulf State investors ahead of his trip to the Middle East on Monday.

Peza Director General Charito B. Plaza told reporters in a recent interview that Middle East investors are “eager” to increase their presence in the Philippines and have committed to invest $650 million in various economic sectors and activities in the country.

“These are 18 projects all in all, 10 from Qatar, one from the United Arab Emirates and seven  from Saudi Arabia,” Plaza said.

According to data from the Peza, businessmen from Qatar will invest in a retirement village, a hotel/tourism economic zone, information- technology (IT) services, halal food processing, hospitals and medical economic zone, civil defense, IT and ecozone management services and export manufacturing.

Investors from Qatar are expected to spend $176 million for these projects, which are expected to generate 4,000 jobs.

The lone project proponent from the UAE, which the Peza did not identify, intends to build an agro-industrial zone with a project price tag of $ 10 million and projected work force of 1,000.

Investors from Saudi Arabia are keen on investing in the processing of Vasmati rice for export, manufacture of generic drugs, investment holdings company, developer of logistics facilities, coco fiber manufacturing, a mixed-use zone consisting of a hotel, tourism complex, and medical services, and a chain of fine-dining restaurants.

Saudia Arabia businessmen are expected to invest $465 million and create employment for 15,770 workers.

“Three companies have already said they want to look for 1,000 hectares of land for their activities. They’re eager to invest and they’ll be coming in after the MOU signing,” Plaza said.

This $650 million is on top of the $100 million secured by Plaza in two previous exploratory trips to the Middle East last year and in early 2017.

Plaza will accompany President Duterte to the Gulf States from April 10 to 16, intending to visit Riyadh, Bahrain and Qatar.

The Middle East remains as a top destination of choice of overseas Filipino workers. Of the top 10 deployment destinations in 2015, six are in the Middle East.

In terms of remittances, the Middle East is the second-largest source with 28 percent or almost  $7.6-billion remitted from the region in 2016.

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