Philippines eyes $150 million Israel investments

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may gain around $150 million worth of investments from Israeli investors this year after the two countries signed an investment promotion and protection agreement (IPPA), according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

In a viber message to reporters, Lopez said several Israeli firms  have already expressed interest to invest  in the Philippines.

“Just today, in our Make it Happen in the Philippines investment forum, solid letters of intent [were] signed and presented to us by Israel investors in agribusiness, software development and IT-BPM (Information Technology- Business Process Management),”Lopez said.

“There were also inquiries on food and beverage, satellite images and water desalination and treatment,”he said.

On Tuesday, Lopez and Israel Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman signed the IPPA which aims to further boost bilateral economic relations between the two countries.

“The IPPA with Israel provides a key opportunity to tap into the industries of agro-tech, life sciences and healthcare, water technologies, high-technology and semiconductors, cybersecurity, financial technology, defense industry, smart transportation, clean technology, smart manufacturing, and the diamond industry,”the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

Lopez said the IPPA is an important arrangement in encouraging more investments.

“The Philippines eyes Israel’s expertise on innovation, especially in new and smart technologies that will bring about more competitive and efficient products. On the other hand, Israeli investors expressed interest in investing in the infrastructure, agriculture and water, and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors in the Philippines,”Lopez said.

Philippine Ambassador to Israel Macairog Alberto said the investment agreement lays down the framework for a closer investment relation between the countries deepening their shared historical ties.

According to the DTI, the IPPA covers the investment protection elements such as national treatment, most favored nation treatment, free transfers, rules-based expropriation and compensation, and investor-state dispute settlement.

“Israeli investors can certainly look forward to maximizing the gains from the game-changing legislative amendments such as the liberalization of the public services act, retail trade liberalization law, and the foreign investments act and now is the most opportune time to do so,”Lopez said.

Apart from the IPPA, Lopez also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on economic and technical cooperation with Israel Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivay, which aims to strengthen trade and economic relations between the two countries.

The MOU, which is an outcome of the Presidential visit of President Duterte in 2018, seeks the establishment of a bilateral consultative mechanism that will develop and strengthen trade, enhance investments, and advance economic ties between the Philippines and Israel.

“In establishing a Joint Economic Commission (JEC), the two countries agree to exchange information on economic issues, identify and implement cooperative projects, organize consultations, missions, and official visits and enhance cooperation and linkages with their respective private sector,”the DTI said.

Lopez recognized the importance of the newly signed JEC as a platform to further improve the Philippine-Israel economic relations, especially in the post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery period.

“As the country accelerates its efforts for continued recovery from the pandemic and manages to sustain inclusive growth, we continue to actively pursue new partnerships, either through JECs agreements and free trade agreements (FTAs) with strategic and non-traditional partners,”the Trade Secretary said.

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