The Philippines and Saudi Arabia agreed on Friday to enhance trade and investments, labor cooperation and tie-ups on renewable energy, following the bilateral meeting of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman.
During the bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the first ASEAN-GCC Summit, Prince Mohammed conveyed his interest to enhance trade and investments relations with the Philippines and also expressed keen interest in the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) and more business-to-business engagements.
The President responded by saying that the Philippines is willing to meet with Saudi businesses to learn how the Saudi sovereign wealth funds are structured so that the private sector can participate in the Maharlika Investment Fund.
And to support and achieve Saudi’s steady growth rate in line with its Vision 2030, the Crown Prince signified his desire to hire more Filipino workers, whom he described as the best in the world.
According to the Crown Prince, the Kingdom needs large workforce as he stressed the need for the Saudi population to grow to at least 60 million from the current 20 million, of which 14 million will comprise the kingdom’s workforce.
As a response, Marcos expressed the Philippines’ willingness to assist Saudi Arabia in supplying 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 the Saudi Arabia to boost the Philippines’ clean energy supply.
At the same time, President Marcos raised the Philippines’ willingness to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to ensure food security by putting up agricultural projects for food production for Saudi Arabia market.
The issue on the payment of benefits of Filipino workers who previously worked for Saudi companies that went bankrupt also emerged during the meeting, with the Saudi monarch saying that his government has set aside initial funding for their benefits.
The Crown Prince told the President that the payment is still under process and that the Kingdom is working on the details.
President Marcos also congratulated Saudi Arabia for hosting the historic ASEAN-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 and thus 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. PND