By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to the Middle East is expected to yield $650 million with 18 companies signing memorandum of understanding (MOUs) for various investments in agricultural processing, tourism, food, and pharmaceutical projects with potential creation of 21,170 new jobs.
The MOUs will be signed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the 18 Middle Eastern project proponents during the President’s trip on April 10 to 16. The three-leg state visit in the Middle East covers Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates.
PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza revealed to reporters that Saudi Arabia has the biggest investment pledges with 10 projects worth $465.34 million.
These projects are into the development of agro-industrial economic zone, manufacture of coco peat/coco fiber an, hotels, tourism complex, medical services and a school with potential jobs generation of 15,770.
There will be seven MOUs to be signed in Qatar for projects worth $175 million. These investments will be used for the establishment of retirement village, hotel and tourism ecozone, IT services, halal food processing/agro-industrial, hospitals, medical ecozone, civil defense, IT and Ecozone management service providing employment to 4,400 people.
The lone project from UAE will be engaged in the development of an agro-industrial economic zone with initial investment of $10 million. This project is expected to create 1,000 jobs.
Plaza has kept secret the corporate identities of these project proponents saying Malacañang will announce them during the actual signing of the MOUs.
According to Plaza, the lone company from the UAE would be in need of 500 to 1,000 hectares of land for its proposed agro-industrial economic zone in Palawan, while one firm from Qatar would be needing a two-hectare property for its proposed civil defense/homeland security systems manufacturing ecozone.
A Saudi Arabia company is looking for a 5-hectare property for its coco peat/coco fiber manufacturing in Tupig, South Cotabato.
Plaza said the investments can be 100 percent foreign-owned or in joint venture with a local partner. Some companies have direct involvement with the royalties from the three states.
PEZA has facilitated these new projects during the two exploratory and investment roadshows they conducted on the run up of the President’s visit.
Duterte will be in the Middle East during the Holy Week. He will be in Riyadh on the 11 to 12, in Bahrain on the 13 to 14 and in Qatar on 15 to 16.
“Normally, the first day will be spent for courtesy calls on the kings and the evenings are spent with the Filipino communities,” said Plaza.