The Royal Families in Qatar and Dubai are looking to lease a million hectares in different idle islands in the Philippines to set up agro-forestry and agro-industrial zones, energy centers and refineries as well as industrial cities as they seek to take advantage of the country’s strong economic growth and attractive investment climate.
According to Charito B. Plaza, Director General of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), representatives from these families would be in the country this week to explore opportunities that could be tapped here and look at the islands where they could set up their proposed projects.
One of the personalities that PEZA was in talks with was Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah of Qatar, Plaza added.
“They will be coming over, but this is all still in the exploration stage. They want to see how our islands look like because some of them have not been to the Philippines, but they’ve heard good stories about how the Philippines is the best place to invest in because the government is supportive and because we at PEZA provide many incentives for investors like income tax holiday of up to eight years and exemptions in the importation of their capital equipment,” she said.
“PEZA is now exploring the Middle East market. We visited the royal families of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and they are all interested to invest in the Philippines through the special economic zones of PEZA. These Middle East investors are looking for areas to invest. They actually want to lease one million hectares that they can develop into agricultural ecozones and this is where they will be sourcing their agricultural requirements,” Plaza said.
Aside from the different incentives from PEZA, they were also offered a lease period of up to 75 years as provided by Philippine laws.
“The Middle East market is now our focus and this is timely because of the independent policy of the President. We failed to realize this is where the money is,” Plaza said.
She explained that the target now is to conduct an inventory of all the islands and vacant lands that can be offered to investors, who are mainly interested in the islands where they are planning to set up oil storage terminals and refineries as well.
PEZA, which has already coordinated with the necessary agencies, expects to come up with a list by January next year.