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Qatar, Philippines sign deals to bolster bilateral relations

Qatar, Philippines sign deals to bolster bilateral relations


Ailyn Agonia
Doha
The Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani and the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte discussed bilateral relations and means of enhancing them in all fields, especially in infrastructure, agriculture, health and education at the Emiri Diwan on Sunday.
They also discussed ways to increase cooperation in the fields of experience exchange and expatriate labour.
The Emir and the President of Philippines witnessed signing of four memoranda of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the fields of culture, health, technical vocational education training and the reciprocal Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) between Qatar and the Philippines.
At a press briefing, Philippine Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez said the investment agreement between the two countries, which has been in the works for the past nine years, will provide the basic rights and guarantees to investors and will give a 'most-favoured type' of treatment to both sides.
The investment agreement covers identification of opportunities, cooperation in the field and ease of doing business between the two countries, he added.
Apart from the $206 million business deals signed between Philippine and Qatar businessmen on Saturday, the new investment agreement could possibly facilitate the extension to the Philippines of $1 billion investment funds from Qatar sovereign fund, Lopez said.
"There has been a lot of work put into this agreement and many legal and economic aspects of negotiations that is why signing of the business agreement has been extended up to this time. It is our desire to complete the process and have a more meaningful investment promotion and protection agreement with Qatar," the official said.
Philippine Health Secretary Paulyn Rosell-Ubial said the new health deal will promote cooperation in health services and medical research between the two countries.
The agreement covers cooperation in all important fields of health. She said the new agreement covers research, exchange of expertise in the field including exchange of scientists, experts and health professionals as well as facilitation of internships and advanced course for both Filipinos and Qataris.
"It is a very comprehensive agreement and we hope to put this into effect so that there is a bilateral exchange of expertise. Only last month, the Qatar government recognised the reciprocity among our healthcare providers. So, our doctors and all health professionals can practise in Qatar as well as the Qataris can study and practise in the Philippines," Ubial said.
Duterte concluded his visit to the Middle East and Qatar on Sunday.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reiterated the success of the three-nation Middle-East visit, which kicked off in Saudi Arabia on April 10. Over $925 million worth of investment deals signed with Saudi, Qatari and Bahraini businessmen during the three-nation visit are expected to create approximately 62,000 jobs for Filipinos, according to the official.
"The President also saw the signing of agreements on investment, labour cooperation, strengthening of diplomatic ties, air services, avoidance of double taxation and cooperation on culture, health and technical vocation education and training during the state visit to the Middle East. He also attended the Philippines-Qatar business forum and witnessed the signing of $206 million worth of business deals between Qatari businessmen and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) which is expected to create almost 5,770 jobs in the Philippines," said Abella.
Meanwhile, acting chief of Philippine department of foreign affairs Enrique Manalo highlighted that the MoU in the field of culture will reinforce and encourage cultural programmes and exchanges including musical, theatrical and artistic groups and promotion of culture and arts of each country. The MoU for cooperation in the field of technical vocational education and training would facilitate exchanges of professionals in technical areas as well as in technical institute management, the official said.

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