Remarks by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the Roundtable Meeting with Saudi Business Leaders

Event Roundtable Meeting with Saudi Business Leaders
Location Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Thank you, Secretary Pascual.

Minister Khalid Al-Falih; distinguished guests from the Saudi government and the business sectors; ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Assalaam ‘alaikum.

On behalf of the Philippine delegation, I wish to thank you all for participating in today’s Roundtable Meeting.

I also wish to thank the Saudi Ministry of Investment for co-organizing this meeting with the Department of Trade and Industry.

I am pleased to note that the immense support that the Ministry, led by His Excellency Minister Khalid Al-Falih, has provided us in making this event possible.

It is my first visit to the region since I assumed the Presidency in June of 2022, and I am most grateful to be welcomed by your confidence in the Philippines and the Filipino people. The Kingdom is home to the largest population of overseas Filipinos in the world, as close to at around 1 million OFWs or overseas Filipino workers, as well as the largest community of Filipino professionals in industries, such as engineering, architecture, and healthcare.

I also wish to acknowledge the valuable contributions of the companies who are taking part in strengthening this cooperation.

With an estimated value of over USD 120 million, the agreements that will be signed today are set to benefit more than 15,000 Filipinos in training and employment opportunities across a wide range of professions in the construction industry.

To our current and future business partners, I hope that this meeting has served as an excellent platform for building greater and closer partnerships between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This meeting happens at such an opportune time as the Philippine economy continues its high growth trajectory. Our economy has sustained its growth momentum, with gross domestic product at 7.6% in the last year, the fastest rate of growth recorded by the Philippines since 1976.

Meanwhile, Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) posted USD 9.2 billion in net inflows last year.

Our financial and banking sectors are healthy and robust, [and] our credit rating continues to receive stable and positive investment grades.

Indeed, the Philippines’ economic achievements in the past year reflect the sustained efforts of this Administration, supported by the private sector, in fostering an enabling business environment, cutting red tape, lowering the cost of doing business, and improving competitiveness.

I assure you that the Philippine government is steadfast in its commitment to continuously support current and prospective Saudi investors.

The Philippines has initiated important legislative amendments to existing laws to further open the economy to foreign investments.

These include the Foreign Investments Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Public Services Act, [and] the Renewable Energy (RE) Act, all of which aim to attract more foreign investments in important sectors such as telecommunications, port operations, transportation, and clean energy.

Moreover, foreign investors are able to enjoy fiscal incentives made available through the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act. I urge you to further engage with my Economic Team to learn more about such benefits.

We also stand ready to welcome you to our tropical country so you may personally see what a globally competitive Philippines can offer.

At the forefront of these opportunities is the recently launched Maharlika Investment Fund, the Philippines’ first-ever sovereign investment fund designed to drive long-term economic development through increased investments in high-impact sectors. We look forward to benefiting not just from Saudi investments, but also from the Kingdom’s extensive experience in managing such funds.

So, as we take part in the ASEAN-GCC Summit, currently being hosted by the Kingdom, we continue to reaffirm our readiness for deeper economic partnerships not just within the Southeast Asian region but as well as with our extended neighbors here in the Gulf.

We hope that the Philippines will be your chosen gateway to the ASEAN and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) economies, which was earlier spoken about.

And on that note, I hope that the Saudi business leaders present here today will further Make It Happen in the Philippines.

I look forward to seeing that this meeting — we will further engage our two countries and will develop and explore opportunities that as yet we have not discussed between our two countries.

We hope to see all of you to visit the Philippines, to see what the opportunities are and for us as well for our part in the Philippines to bring our teams to the Kingdom and further we already have a very strong and very long-standing people-to-people relationship which can serve as a very good foundation for any future endeavors between our two countries.

However, we should not limit ourselves alone to the labor market. We should also explore the new businesses that have come up since the end of the pandemic economy and that is the area where I think that the GCC and ASEAN will find as a fertile ground for future investment, and also for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of the Philippines to further strengthen the ties, not only in trade but in areas of telecommunication, healthcare, energy, and even agriculture as what’s been spoken about.

The central tenet of our plans for development in the Philippines is very much to regard our private sectors as partners in this development program. We recognize that government is good at many things but there are other things that the private sector does better.

And with that partnership, we can look forward to further growth, further strengthening of our relationships, and a better future for both our countries.

Thank you. Maraming salamat. Shukran.

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