SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez today expressed optimism of more Saudi Arabia investments pouring into the Philippines on top of deals worth over US $4.26 billion between Saudi and Filipino firms forged during the visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to the Middle Eastern kingdom.
According to Romualdez, the expected additional investments would create more jobs for Filipinos and spur development.
The agreements expected to benefit more than 15,000 Filipino workers were signed during the President’s roundtable meeting with top Saudi business leaders at the St. Regis Hotel in Riyadh Thursday afternoon (Saudi time), held on the sidelines of the 2023 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit.
“Our distinguished friends from Saudi Arabia expressed a strong interest in exploring various investment opportunities in our country. Their willingness to consider the Philippines as a destination for their investments speaks volumes about the potential and attractiveness of our nation as an investment hub,” Romualdez said.
“I believe that the strategic partnership that is emerging from this meeting will open doors to new ventures, create job opportunities for our people, and further enhance our economic growth,” added Romualdez, leader of the 300-plus strong House of Representatives.
He noted that no less than Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investments Khalid A. Al-Falih told Pres. Marcos, Jr. during the meeting that leading businesses in the Kingdom are interested in various investment opportunities in the Philippines.
Among others, Al-Falih said KSA business leaders want to learn more about the newly launched Maharlika Investment Fund, as well as potential investments in the fields of energy and chemicals, industry and logistics, tourism, real estate, labor, agriculture.
Al-Falih said there are many opportunities to deepen the partnership between Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, noting the KSA is planning to invest more than US $133 billion by the end of this decade in aviation, railways, ports, maritime services, and logistics hub, among others.
Citing the “considerable strength and much-unused potential” of the Philippines in agriculture, Al-Falih said Saudi champions in the sector would “love to invest in the Philippines to improve the yield your agriculture sector, food processing and manufacturing logistics and the import potential of that sector.”
The Saudi Minister added that aside from a fast-growing economy, the Philippines offers the
“unique strength and comparative advantage of Filipino talent, renowned around the world for their work ethic, English-speaking, well-skilled, tech-savvy and service-oriented.”
Romualdez, leader of the 300-plus strong House of Representatives, noted that the administration of President Marcos is committed to creating a business-friendly environment, streamlining regulatory processes, and ensuring the protection of investors’ rights.
“As Speaker of the House of Representatives, I am confident that our legislative body will work closely with the Executive branch to implement policies and enact laws that will support and facilitate these investments,” said Romualdez.
In his keynote address during the roundtable meeting, Pres. Marcos cited the sustained growth momentum of the Philippine economy which posted a 7.6% gross domestic product in 2022, the fastest rate of growth recorded by the Philippines since 1976.
The President also noted that the financial and banking sectors in the Philippines are healthy and robust and that our country’s credit rating continues to receive stable and positive investment grades.
Likewise, he pointed out that the Philippines has initiated important legislative amendments to existing laws to further open the economy to foreign investments.
These measures include the Foreign Investments Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Public Services Act, and the Renewable Energy (RE) Act, which aim to attract more foreign investments in important sectors such as telecommunications, port operations, transportation, and clean energy.
He also told Saudi business leaders that foreign investors are able to enjoy fiscal incentives in the Philippines made available through the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.
Among the key Saudi firms represented in the roundtable meeting was KSA’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the 6th largest sovereign wealth fund (SWF) in the world, with assets worth US $607.42 billion.
Currently, PIF owns 71 companies in 10 different sectors and has created more than 500,00 direct and indirect jobs.
Likewise represented during the meeting were the Saudi Arabian Oil Group (ARAMCO), one of the world’s largest integrated energy and chemicals companies; National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri); Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co. (SALIC), as well as the Alrajhi Bank and Saudi National Bank (Al Ahli)