Saturday June 11, 2022

UAE and the Philippines enhance their bilateral economic relations

UAE and the Philippines enhance their bilateral economic relations

(L to R) Hjyaceelyn M. Quintana, Ramon Lopez Jr., Mohamed Hadi Al Hussaini and Abdalla Ahmed Alobaidi after signing the agreement.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

The UAE and the Philippines have further enhanced their bilateral economic relations with the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Mohamed Hadi Al Hussaini and the Philippines’ Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez Jr. signing the historic Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) on Thursday in Dubai.

The signing of the agreement which, alongside the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) earlier sealed on the sidelines of the Feb. 12 Philippine National Day Celebrations from the six-month Expo2020 Dubai, is for the realisation of improving well-protected foreign direct investments (FDIs) and partnerships as well as the widening of access to markets, beneficial to both governments and their people.

The CEPA was initially discussed during the Dec. 8 “ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Global Business Forum” organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, part of the Expo2020 Dubai activities.

From the Thursday signing, Al Hussaini and Lopez emphasised that the IPPA is a “landmark agreement” set to boost bilateral investments and bolster economic cooperation between the two countries. It is a result of the successful collaboration between the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), including the coordination between the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in facilitating the IPPA negotiation meetings and exchange of drafts between the DTI-Bureau of Investments and the UAE Ministry of Finance (MoF).

Witnesses to the signing were UAE MoF Director Abdalla Ahmed Alobaidi and Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana.

Quintana highlighted the timeliness of the IPPA as the two countries forge stronger relations, expanding the depth and breadth of cooperation across many areas, including trade and investment. She noted its significance especially so that 2022 and specifically on Aug. 19 (Friday), is the commemoration of the 48th year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of the Philippines (1974) while it was on June 17, 1980 when Manila opened the Philippine Embassy at the Al Ain Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The Philippine Consulate General in Dubai, initially situated within the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Al Hamriyah, was inaugurated on April 6, 2004 brought about by the increasing Filipino population also in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

The eighth top Philippine diplomat to the UAE said: “This historic agreement is the first of a number of bilateral instruments that will further cement close ties between our two countries as the Philippines and the UAE mark 48 years of diplomatic relations this year.” “I am joined by my compatriots in the UAE in expressing our fervent hope that this IPPA will usher in an era of heightened investments as our two countries build confidence, creating a mutually favorable environment for investors of both sides,” Quintana also said.

Official records showed there are over 650,000 Filipinos in the UAE with over 45,000 as tourist visa holders, the third largest expatriate group, next to Indians and Pakistanis. Of the over 650,000, 20 per cent are professionals; 50 per cent, skilled to semi-skilled workers; 10 per cent, lower-skilled workers; and 30 per cent, household/domestic workers.

With the IPPA, the Philippines is set to heighten investment activities with the UAE, which ranked in 2021 as its 20th trading partner out of 223, 23rd export market out of 205, and 18th import supplier out of 210. Between 2015 and 2020, the UAE contributed up to one-third of the Outward FDIs to the Philippines, surpassing the other Gulf countries.

Meanwhile during the Feb. 12 Expo2020 Dubai Philippine National Day and through the “Philippines Country Briefing,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Public Works and Highways Roger Mercado, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Philippine Stock Exchange Inc. President and Chief Executive Offer Ramon Monzon, had pitched in for FDIs to interested government and private entities in the UAE, Lopez said: “The Expo2020 Dubai has been a game changer in the Philippines-UAE economic relations opening up unlimited opportunities in trade, tourism and investments. Total trade between our two countries grew by 35 per cent in the value of $951 million (Php50,460,060,000.00/Dhs3,493,118,100.00) in 2021 from about $700 million (Php37,142,000,000.00/Dhs3,493,118,100.00) in 2020. Philippine exports is valued at $245 million (Php12,999,700,000.00/Dhs899,909,500.00) while imports doubled to $706 million (Php37,460,360,000.00/Dhs2,593,208,600.00). The UAE is the biggest export partner of the Philippines in the Middle East and Abu Dhabi serves as the transit hub for Philippine exports (to other countries).”

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