Charito Plaza
Charito Plaza of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority Image Credit: File photo / PNA

Dubai / Manila: The Philippines is open for business and investments from the UAE, a senior official said. Charito Plaza, director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has invited companies especially oil firms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to build and operate oil refineries in the southeast Asian country.

During the Global Biz with PEZA held in Dubai on Tuesday, Plaza said companies based in the UAE should look into opportunities in making the Philippines its hub in the Southeast Asian region.

Her pitch is part of the Manila administration's promotional blitz to drum up investments in the Philippines from the UAE and the wider Middle East at the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai.

Philippines' largest ecozone project
On Thursday (February 10, 2022) PEZA approved the registration for the PHP125-billion Quezon Techno-Industrial Special Economic Zone (QTISEZ) project, the largest economic zone in the country.

The 1,836-hectare facility which faces the Pacific Ocean, is located in Barangays Rosario and San Jose in the town of Mauban in Quezon province, south of Manila.

PEZA director general Charito Plaza said the developer, Achievement Realty Corp. (ARC), is allocating Php75 billion for ecozone development, and Php25 billion each for its own international seaport and airport.

“It will be the first international airport and seaport to be strategically located in the Eastern part of Luzon,” Plaza added.

The zone is expected to house some 2,000 factories and will create 200,000 jobs.

Ease of doing business

“We seek your help to talk with big oil companies here in UAE as we attract them to locate in our island refinery ecozones, so to bring their oil deposits, stock it in the Philippines and have it refined there,” she said.

Plaza added UAE firms can take advantage of the ease of doing business as PEZA offers a one-stop shop for processing investments within ecozones and enjoying fiscal incentives and lower corporate income tax rate with the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law.

Island refinery ecozone is a new type of ecozone that PEZA is pursuing to help the country secure petroleum needs and lessen its vulnerability from oil supply and price disruptions in the world market.

Aside from setting up oil refinery ecozones, Plaza said UAE companies may also explore opportunities in establishing halal ecozones, as well as Islamic banking in the Philippines.

The Philippines is one Southeast Asian countries that have extensively pursued economic zone development. As of January 2020, there were 407 operating ecozones and an additional 144 zones were being developed

Plaza said there are currently six locators from the UAE in PEZA zones with total investments amounting to Php383 billion ($7.45 billion) and employing 1,049 personnel, according to the Philippine News Agency.

Philippine officials are meeting potential investors in Dubai during the Expo 2020. The Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC)-Dubai is the representative office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the United Arab Emirates. PTIC-Dubai is part of the Philippine Foreign Trade Service Corps of the DTI’s Office of the Secretary (OSEC).