PH, Qatar plan $1-billion investment fund

By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 12 2012 06:39 AM | Updated as of Apr 12 2012 08:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and Qatar are planning to put up a $1-billion joint investment fund as Qatar expressed keen interest to do more business in Manila, particularly in tourism, energy and infrastructure.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday there had been a fruitful dialogue between President Aquino and the Emir of Qatar Shiek Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who cut short his two-day state visit in the country  after spending four hours in Manila.

Lacierda said there was a memorandum of understanding signed by the Department of Trade and Industry and Qatar Holding Limited Liability Corp. where a provision was included that “parties would explore investment opportunities in the Philippines” in various sectors including natural resources, commodities, energy, agriculture, infrastructure and to study the establishment of the fund whose authorized capital would be in the range of $1 billion.

“The structure of the fund, the contribution of each party to its capital, the terms and conditions for its establishment and operation shall be subject to the specific agreement of the parties. They’re going to study the establishment of the fund…It would be subject to the study to be conducted by DTI and Qatar Holding LLC. We don’t know the structure of the fund and the capital contribution of each parties yet,” Lacierda said.

During the leaders’ expanded bilateral talks, Lacierda said there were a number of things that the President mentioned to the Emir of Qatar.

“The President asked Qatar to consider importing jewelry, garments, consumer electronics, personal products and the halal – there are around 10,000 halal products that are available in the Philippines. And the President also informed them about the resurgent furniture making industry here, if they would consider making the Philippines a supplier of high-end quality furniture for Qatar and also to consider outsourcing, architectural construction, interior design and engineering services from the Philippines,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said Aquino boasted about the country’s competitiveness in the ranking in the Wall Street Journal’s Economic Freedom Index and the Heritage Foundation. He also mentioned to the Emir that 21 Philippine Stock Exchange Index record highs and six positive ratings actions during his time.

“He invited Qatar to join the next round of the Philippines’ Energy Contracting Round for coal and petroleum. This is the fourth round,”  he said.

Lacierda said the President also mentioned the Public-Private Partnership projects to the Sheikh and their minister of economy and finance, Yousef Hussain Kamal.

“They were very interested in the areas of energy and tourism. (Finance) Secretary (Cesar) Purisima mentioned to him a list of PPP projects, the mass transit, the airports,  the ports, the food supply chain. The Sheikh said, maybe they can meet on the PPP and the minister said we’ll be very interested if you have any pre-feasibility studies already conducted,” Lacierda said.

“Before we meet can you give us a copy and we can take a look,” Lacierda said quoting officials of Qatar. “They expressed interest in the privatization efforts of the Philippines, in areas of infrastructure also specifically infrastructure. They also expressed interest in increased flight frequency to the Philippines,” he said.

The President and the Emir witnessed the signing of five agreements.

There was the MOU on cooperation in the legal field that would encourage the sharing of experiences and best practices in the performance of the mandates of each country’s respective ministry or department of justice.

The MOU on agricultural and fisheries cooperation establishes the general framework for cooperation in the fields of agriculture and fisheries for the purpose of fostering sectoral development and enhancing agri-related trade and investment. Among the areas of cooperation are crops technology, vegetable and fruit preservation, biotechnology, post-harvest technology, livestock and fisheries, coastal and deep-sea fishing management, irrigation and water resources, and the halal industry.

The MOU between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Qatar Holding Limited Liability Corp. was concerning investment cooperation. This MOU will explore the investment opportunities in the Philippines in various sectors including natural resources, commodities, energy, agriculture and infrastructure, Lacierda said.

The private sector agreement on the establishment of Joint Business Council between the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Qatari Chamber of Commerce and Industry was also signed.