November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Qatar business delegation due in Sept.

FOLLOWING President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s visit to Qatar last month, a delegation from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is expected to visit Manila in September at the earliest, to explore business opportunities.

In a statement sent to reporters posted to the Finance department, Qatar Ambassador to Manila Ali Ibrahim A. I. Al-Malki told Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III of the planned trip and noted the success of President Duterte to the Middle East in mid-April.

Mr. Dominguez said that the QIA may explore possible tourism and logistics investments.

“There are many areas where we need tourism facilities. We will welcome investments from your fund in that area,” Mr. Dominguez said.

“We are an archipelagic nation, so Qatar can also look into investing in logistics -- shipping -- here,” he added.

Mr. Dominguez also said that Qatar can also invest in the pharmaceuticals industry as well as the housing sector.

These investments are now possible after Qatar and the Philippines entered into an agreement on bilateral investment protection and promotion.

The deal was 10 years in the making and was finally signed during President Duterte’s visit, which opened up investments amounting to $1 billion through the QIA.

The QIA serves as the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar which manages and invests the state’s revenue surplus.

The QIA is also set to meet the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business groups in Manila.

Mr. Al-Malki, said he will help organize a tourism expo in Qatar showcasing the Philippines, as Qataris do not know much about the country as a tourist destination compared with other Southeast Asian countries.

The two countries also signed during President Duterte’s April visit three other agreements on cultural cooperation; health and research; and technical-vocational education and training.

In the April Qatar trip, 21 business-to-business deals worth $925 million were sealed on involving investments in halal industries, health and research, and technical-vocational education and training.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority also undertook an investment roadshow in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in February, which resulted in a total of $500 million worth of pledges, mostly benefiting the country’s Muslim regions.

In 2016, Qatar was the Philippines’ 32nd largest trading partner, with bilateral trade amounting to $241 million.

The Middle East remains the country’s second-largest source of remittances from overseas Filipinos, accounting for 28% of the total or almost $7.6 billion in 2016.

The Middle East hosts more than one million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and labor issues rank high on the list of Philippine concerns. -- Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan