UAE - Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh, UAE Minister of State, and Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, have led a high-level UAE delegation to Manila, Philippines, to explore bilateral trade and investment opportunities and facilitate private-sector collaboration in sectors of mutual interest.

The visit comes against the backdrop of growing economic ties between the UAE and the Philippines, which in the first half of 2023 saw bilateral non-oil trade increase by 19.4 per cent to reach $500 million, compared to the same period in 2022. It also follows the announcement to launch discussions towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which will add significant impetus to bilateral trade and investment flows.

During the talks, they restated the commitment of both sides to deepen strategic trade and investment relations in the energy sector, while also outlining efforts to support the objectives of the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference (COP28), being held in Dubai next week. With Undersecretary Zeno Abenoja of the Department of Finance, talks centred on development toward the implementation of an Investments Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPA), signed between the two nations in June 2023.

The ministers also attended the UAE-Philippines Business Forum, which convened representatives of leading companies and investors from both countries to promote private-sector collaboration. During the event, Al Sayegh and Al Zeyoudi outlined the broad scope of opportunities for collaboration across sectors of mutual interest, such as clean energy, tourism, financial services transportation and logistics.

Al Sayegh said the UAE-Philippines Business Forum “offers a unique opportunity for business players to engage, explore and establish pathways for joint projects and concrete actions”. He added: “The UAE and the Philippines have made significant strides in strengthening their economic and bilateral partnership, where mutual efforts have been successful in facilitating investments and collaboration in key sectors”. Noting that “the UAE continues to build growth-oriented partnerships with strategic allies across the world creating new opportunities in future industries.”

Meanwhile, Al Zeyoudi promoted the advantages and incentives offered by the UAE’s dynamic business landscape to Filipino businesses and investors. These include its strategic location, world-class infrastructure and logistics capabilities, and a pro-growth regulatory and legislative environment.

Al Zeyoudi added: “The Philippines is a valued trade and investment partner for the UAE, sharing half a billion dollars’ worth of non-oil trade in the first half of 2023. We are like-minded nations that share an ambition to develop agile and diverse economies capable of securing long-term, sustainable growth for our people. Strategically located in Southeast Asia and rich in natural resources and hard-working talent, the Philippines is a country of substantial potential that offers a wide range of opportunities for UAE businesses – many of which we have explored during the highly productive UAE-Philippines Business Forum. It’s clear that the private sectors of both nations see many areas of collaboration and I look forward to seeing ideas and connections translate into meaningful opportunities in the near future.”

The business forum served to highlight the investment and cooperation opportunities in several sectors, including transportation, tourism, maritime and logistics, telecommunications and finance. Additionally, it concluded with the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoU) between the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), signed by Abdulla Sultan AlOwais, vice chairman of the FCCI, chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), signed by its president George T. Barcelon. The signings were witnessed by Al Sayegh and Al Zeyoudi.

While in the Philippines, the delegation also held bilateral talks with Frederick Go, Presidential Adviser on investment and economic affairs for the Philippines and conducted a series of site visits to leading Filipino entities to identify joint venture prospects across high-growth sectors. These included two of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates — JG Summit Holdings and the San Miguel Corporation, in addition to critical infrastructure developer the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and utilities provider Meralco.

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