Middle East crisis beneficial to Philippines — PEZA

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines stands to benefit from an ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Middle East as more trade and investments are seen going toward the country, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) director general Charito Plaza said.

“The Qatar crisis is to our advantage because while they have an embargo with their neighboring countries, they are now telling us the more they will invest in the Philippines. So this will be one area where they will be getting their food supply and others they need. It opens more doors for investments,” she said.

Early this month, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Maldives cut ties with Qatar in what is regarded as one of the biggest political crisis to hit the Middle East in recent years.

The decision came after suspicion that Qatar has been hosting terrorist groups.

“The question is, will it affect the investors that have already signed with us? No, the more they become more aggressive to invest in the Philippines because of the crisis that is going on in their country,” Plaza said.

“Remember we had an LOI (letter of intent) signing during the state visit of President Duterte in the Middle East and we got almost $1 billion in investment pledges. Four of them already came to look for locations,” she added.

Plaza said the four firms, which are from Qatar and the UAE, are GBS Blackleaf, FQR Consortium, Chitilian Group and NFCA.

GBS Blackleaf, FQR Consortium and Chitilian Group are planning to put up retirement villages in the country with investments worth $90 million, $60 million and $6 million, respectively.

NFCA, meanwhile, is investing $10 million for a nanocarbon technology project.

Aside from these firms, Plaza said two companies have earlier signed memoranda of understanding with local entities for the construction of an agro-industrial economic zone in Quezon province.

“The Middle East crisis did not affect the interest of these investors coming from Qatar, Saudi and UAE,” Plaza said.

“More are coming because after the Middle East visit, we continued to follow it up to them that they immediately register with us and look for their respective locations,” she added.

President Duterte’s visit to the Middle East last April yielded total investment pledges worth $925 million. The projects are expected to generate 26,000 new jobs for Filipinos.

Of these pledges, a total of 13 projects were signed with Qatar firms for a total amount of $206 million.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/06/23/1712621/middle-east-crisis-beneficial-philippines-peza