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Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Saudi, PHL expanding labor relations

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THE Palace has announced the Philippines and Saudi Arabia are committed to strengthening their collaboration in trade and investments, labor partnerships, and renewable energy initiatives.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) made a statement following a bilateral meeting between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman.

At their recent bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the first ASEAN-GCC Summit, Prince Mohammed conveyed his interest in enhancing trade and investment relations with the Philippines and also expressed keen interest in the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) and more business-to-business engagements.

In response, Marcos expressed the Philippines’s readiness to engage with Saudi businesses, aiming to understand the structure of Saudi sovereign wealth funds, saying this understanding will pave the way for private sector involvement in the Maharlika Investment Fund.

To support and align with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and its sustained growth objectives, the Crown Prince expressed a strong interest in hiring more Filipino workers, whom he hailed as among the world’s best.

He emphasized the Kingdom’s need for a larger workforce, with ambitions to increase Saudi Arabia’s population from the current 20 million to at least 60 million, with 14 million contributing to the nation’s workforce.

For his part, Marcos expressed the Philippines’s willingness to assist Saudi Arabia to supply skilled workers and professionals.

The Crown Prince also mentioned during the meeting possible partnerships in renewable energy, noting that, for example, a Saudi company that produces solar panels for the whole Middle East and Africa could also invest in the country. The Kingdom also wants to partner with the Philippines in the energy sector.

The President emphasized the country’s readiness to partner with Saudi Arabia to boost the Philippines’s clean energy supply.

Marcos also offered the Philippines’s cooperation in ensuring food security by initiating agricultural projects aimed at food production for the Saudi Arabian market.

Unpaid benefits

Meanwhile, the PCO said, the issue of unpaid benefits for Filipino workers previously employed by Saudi companies that went bankrupt was also discussed. The Saudi monarch assured that initial funding had been allocated for these benefits, with ongoing work to finalize the details.

President Marcos also congratulated Saudi Arabia for hosting the historic Asean-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit, noting its significant global impact in promoting international peace and security.

Prince Mohammed expressed his intention to visit the Philippines, which was welcomed affirmatively by the President, who formally extended an invitation to the Crown Prince to undertake the visit.

The two leaders earlier met in Bangkok, Thailand, at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November last year.

Investment and pledges

Meanwhile, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said Marcos’s two-day Saudi Arabia trip secured billions of dollars in actual investment and pledges, opening huge job opportunities for Filipinos and strengthening strategic ties with allies that promise to boost our nation’s economic prosperity.

During the President’s trip, several agreements were signed between Saudi and Filipino companies, with an estimated total value of $4.26 billion. These agreements are expected to benefit approximately 300,000 Filipino workers and have piqued the interest of Saudi businesses in the Maharlika Investment Fund.

These developments were the result of the President’s meeting with top Saudi business leaders on the sidelines of his participation in the 2023 Asean-GCC Summit, as well as bilateral meetings held with several GCC leaders.

According to Romualdez, these accomplishments are anticipated to have a positive impact on the country’s growth and prosperity, reflecting growing confidence in the Philippines as an attractive destination for foreign investment.

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