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Qatar eyes $1-billion investments in Phl

MANILA, Philippines - The oil-rich state of Qatar is ready to invest up to $1 billion mainly for infrastructure projects in the Philippines, a ranking official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said yesterday.

In an interview, Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio said they are in talks with Qatari authorities for the terms of the investment agreements expected to be signed during the upcoming visit in mid-January of the Emir of Qatar.

He said the $1-billion fund will be provided by the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority. This amount, however, is only a small portion of the $300-billion investible fund earmarked by Qatar for foreign investments over the next 10 years.

“We have just been to Qatar. We met with them and they said the $1-billion fund is available,” Panlilio said.

The Philippines and Qatar have been negotiating for years for an investment agreement but have yet to cement a deal. The negotiations resumed last month, with Panlilio heading the Philippine delegation for the third round of talks.

He said the agreement is now 95 percent completed. “We already agreed on the most important issues.”

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According to Panlilio, the $1-billion fund will be spread over a number of investments. He said they are drawing up an agreement wherein 85 percent will come from the Qatari fund and remaining 15 percent as counterpart investment either from the Philippine government or a Philippine-based company.

Panlilio said Qatari investors have expressed interest in the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects.

Likewise, he said other investments could be funneled in power, food and agribusiness, as well as portfolio investments.

Aside from the $1-billion investible fund, Panlilio said the agreement will have a mutual investment protection and no double-taxation clause.

Under the mutual investment protection clause, Panlilio said that Qatari firms would be treated on an equal footing with Filipino companies.

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