DOHA, QATAR—Dutertenomics, the new way to sum-up Philippine (PH) President Rodrigo Duterte’s key socio-economic agenda, which aims to widen the gains of economic development, to address inequality and to uplift the quality of life of all Filipinos, was used to describe the various initiatives undertaken in the official Middle East visits of President Duterte.
PH Cabinet members reported, in a press briefing, several gains in securing the safety and welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in these countries, several memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and agreements in the field of education, health, vocational and skills training, economic investment and technical cooperation with the three countries that the official delegation visited, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Bahrain and Qatar from 10 to 16 April.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the chief executive’s visits to these Middle East countries significantly strengthened the relationship between President Duterte and each of the leaders in the three nations, resulting in stronger commitment to build-up on PH bilateral trade and investments with KSA, Bahrain and Qatar.
All these initiatives form part the ‘Dutertenomics’ that will create more job and income opportunities, and improve the lives of many Filipinos. These opportunities will be dispersed throughout the country, uplifting the lives of the people in the provinces and addressing inequality in the country.
More trade and investments
President Duterte led the discussion on how trade can be more balanced by encouraging these Middle East countries to buy more of PH products to improve the trade balance. Said countries are the main sources of oil and oil products that PH has to import.
Aside from commitments to expand imports from PH, several initiatives to facilitate investments were signed.
Foremost among which is the Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (IPPA) with Qatar, which should facilitate the flow of bigger sized Qatar investments into PH. This agreement, the negotiations of which started nine years ago, will now make PH an eligible recipient of investment funds from the Qatar Sovereign Fund. Initial estimate of investment allocation is USD 1 billion.
The IPPA will basically provide internationally-recognized investors their rights and safeguards.
“Qatar investors will be treated fairly, will not be disadvantaged and will facilitate identification of opportunities and entry of investments,” Sec. Lopez said.
There are more investment MOUs and Letters of Intent (LOIs) signed that will bring in investments into PH.
PH through PEZA, led by the DTI Secretary as Chairman, together with Director General Charito Plaza, was able to close USD 469 million-worth of business to business (B2B) LOIs, creating 16,000 new jobs in the areas of pharma generics, property development, medical tourism, ports warehouses, agri-industrial economic zones and Halal food processing industry zones, and tourism.
PH company AMA Group Holdings Corporation and Bahrain company Nader & Ebrahim Sons of Hassan Company W.L.L. (represented by Ebrahim Hassan Mubarak Alameer) signed an MOU, wherein parties agreed to acquire, by lease from land owners, an area of 10,000 hectares with additional investment of USD 250 million over three to five years. This will create 3,500 new jobs. When operation is full, employment will go up to 40,000, producing a total volume of 560,000 MT of various fruits and agriculture products, with export value of USD 280 million annually.
Thirteen projects were signed amounting to USD 206 million, generating close to 6,000 workers. These projects will be in the areas of retirement village/hotel/ tourism economic zone in Romblon, Davao or Cebu; information technology (IT) and economic zone management services; hospitals and medical tourism; poultry and Halal food processing; digital marketing; manufacture of coco peat/coco fiber in South Cotabato; manufacture and export facility of nanostructured carbon; and agro-industrial economic zone in Palawan.
More prospects ahead
PH also told investors that the PH is the 2017 chair of the ASEAN regional meetings. At the top of its agenda is steering the ASEAN to full economic integration, which means that by capitalizing on PH’s location, not only will investors be able to access PH market of 105 million, but Phil will be their gateway to the bigger ASEAN market of 620 million people.
President Duterte also encouraged these Middle East countries to explore cooperation on several prime industry sectors in PH that investors can take part in, including agribusiness & agriculture; energy efficiency technologies & renewable energy; infrastructure/public-private partnership (PPP) projects; IT-business process management shared services; oil & gas; and tourism.