Manila, Abu Dhabi eye investment protection deal

The Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are working on an agreement that will safeguard the investments of both economies, which the country’s trade chief expects will result in an influx of Emirati capital.

In an interview with reporters in Dubai last week, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said Manila and Abu Dhabi investment officials are crafting an investment promotion and protection agreement. The Ippa, he said, has long been a plan of the governments of two countries, but is almost always put aside for labor deals.

“We have been discussing this for a long time, but it keeps on getting stalled. Hearing [about] what the investors are looking for, every time they ask if we have an Ippa in the Philippines, I think it’s time we have one for them to look at the Philippines,” said Lopez.

“Apparently, that’s what they are really looking for, so it’s important that we also develop one in the same way that we developed one for Qatar. Just early this week, we are also reviving earlier drafts we did with Oman,” he added.

Lopez said Gulf state firms usually invest in countries that have an Ippa, especially those like the Philippines that are far from the Middle East and is relatively a new rising economy.

This Ippa gives Arab investors the confidence because it secures their capital by allowing them to freely move their money from one place to another. According to the trade chief, the contents of an Ippa are already found in Philippine laws and regulations, but the investors just want a separate document for themselves.

“Usually, these are assurances that their investments will be protected with all the necessary rules. Frankly, most of these assurances are found in our laws already: the right to remit the profit, the dividends, even the investments. It will make life easier for them, that when they invest here they can manage their capital fluidly,” said Lopez.

Lopez and a team of several trade officials were in Dubai last week for the international launch of the country’s participation in the World Expo 2020. The Philippines will be showcasing the bangkota—ancient Filipino word for coral reef—which will house arts, crafts, visuals and products from the country.

The Philippine government is expecting its participation in the World Expo will improve the country’s profile to the international community, and will lure investors to do business here.

World Expo 2020 will run from October 2020 to April 2021 in Dubai. Organizers are projecting over 25 million visitors in what they branded as the world’s greatest show.

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