Philippines targets Middle East in investment push

The Philippines is training its sight on billions of dollars of investment from the Middle East. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority, 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 United Arab Emirates after receiving proposals, Director General Charito Plaza said in an interview. The potential investment is billions of dollars, she said. “The Middle East market is untapped,” Plaza, a former lawmaker said, adding, “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. Officials are readying a map by early 2017 to show investment destinations in each region, she said. According to her, the recent investment roadshows included Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The government plans other roadshows in untapped markets like Russia and Iran. Companies operating in Philippine economic zones include American, Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese and Dutch. (Siegfrid Alegado and Clarissa Batino/Bloomberg)

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