$15B Investment from Middle Eastern Royals Pushes Through

The Philippines is preparing to receive another big wave of investment and this time, it’s from Middle East.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which oversees hundreds of industrial parks offering tax perks, is identifying sites that can stock Qatar’s oil reserves and land that can be planted with crops for export to the UAE after receiving proposals, director general Charito Plaza, 58, said in an interview. The potential investment is at least $15-billion US dollars, she said.

“The Middle East market is untapped,” Plaza, a former lawmaker and a military reserve officer with a rank of brigadier general, said on November 8 after a 12-day working trip overseas. “With President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s independent foreign policy, we are now open to everybody.”

The Philippines, which receives the lowest foreign direct investment among major Southeast Asian nations, is preparing swathes of land for manufacturing, tourism, farming and mining while areas for potential reclamation are also pinpointed, Plaza said in her office in Manila. Officials are readying a map by early 2017 to show investment destinations in each region, she said.

The recent investment roadshows included Qatar, and Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Plaza said. The government plans other roadshows in untapped markets like Russia and Iran, she said. Companies operating in Philippine economic zones include American, Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese and Dutch.

Pakistan also shows interest in putting at least $2-billion dollars in manufacturing, especially in defense industry, electronics, construction, and agriculture.

European economic experts predicted that the Philippine economy will outperform all Asian countries by 2022 given the current upward trend.

The said investment from the Middle East could produce more than 300,000 permanent jobs, and at least 200,000 short-term jobs according to Plaza. /Liezel Cordona/

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