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Filipino forum woos Qatari investments in Philippine ecozones & halal industry

Filipino forum woos Qatari
investments in Philippine 
ecozones & halal industry

Ailyn Agonia
The first virtual conference in Qatar on investment opportunities in the Philippines on Thursday showcased the priority sectors for investments in the Southeast Asian country, including its thriving halal industry and the attractive benefits of investing in the Philippine economic zones.
The event was organised by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), in coordination with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the Philippine Trade & Investment Center for the Middle East, and the Philippine Business Council-Qatar.
In her presentation, Philippine Commercial Attaché to the Middle East Charmaine Yalong emphasised the promising potential in the Philippine-Qatar trade and investments relations, and the scope for progress considering that Qatar ranks as the 38th market for Philippine exports valued at $55.19 million in 2019 while Philippine imports from Qatar amounted to $147.99 million in the same year.
She said that from 2010 to the first quarter of 2020, the recorded approved investments from Qatar are in the construction industry and administrative and support service activities. While in terms of priority sectors for investment in the Philippines, she cited the country’s agribusiness/agriculture, energy efficiency technologies and renewable energy, infrastructure, IT-Business Process Management (shared services), oil and gas, and tourism.
Director of the Bureau of Muslim Economic Affairs Saleha Sacar highlighted the importance of investments on halal hubs as well as the promotion of Islamic Finance as part of the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan.
She said, “With the rapid growth of halal markets worldwide and in the Philippines, we are now moving quickly to establish ‘halal hubs’. Through the establishments of halal hubs in the Philippines, it will create an economic livelihood programme for our Muslim Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 crisis.”
The keynote speech of PEZA Director-General Charito B Plaza underscored the latest sustained and strategic business opportunities in Philippine eco-zones in the fields of eco, medical & wellness tourism, halal food processing, Islamic finance, IT-Business Process Outsourcings and the agro-industrial exports that remain 100 percent COVID-free. She highlighted the competitive incentives such as tax holidays and zero customs duties.
The official also extended an invitation to Qatari businessmen to invest in island-city developments with up to 75-year leaseholds as well as in education and technology ecozones, which Plaza said was inspired by the Qatar Foundation.
She also updated prospective investors on the expanded benefits and advantages on investing in the Philippines either as an ecozone developer or locator.
Commenting on the outcome of the event, Philippine Business Council Qatar (PBC-Q) President Greg Loayon said, “COVID-19 has put companies on an even playing field wherever they may be in the world, irrespective of the industry. As such, the call of the times is for companies to embrace the new normal where technology will now play a bigger role in the world of business. PEZA, therefore, is in the right space by being early in embracing this and reaching out to a global audience as they have done today. The Philippine Business Council, as PEZA’s Investment Promotions Partner in the Middle East and Europe, looks forward to more collaborations.”
Doha-based PEZA Investment Promotions Partner for the Middle East Joseph Timothy Rivera pointed out that the event was well attended by Qatari and Filipino entrepreneurs based in Qatar, with representatives from various international business councils and some major companies in Qatar and other business groups from neighbouring GCC countries.
He said, “We are very much delighted at the outcome of this online seminar and we hope we could organise more similar PEZA virtual investment forums in other GCC countries in the coming period. This successful event was also a good platform for us to organise upcoming actual business delegations to the Philippines, when the pandemic subsides and under the new normal.”
Rivera also extended the invitation to all participants for the next business mission to the Philippines scheduled to be held either in November this year or April next year, depending on how the pandemic situation