THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) anticipates investors from the Middle East would lease up to one million hectares in the Philippines for special economic zones as a result of the agency’s outreach efforts.
“PEZA is now exploring the Middle East market,” new PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said over the weekend. “I visited the royal families of Qatar and the UAE [United Arab of Emirates], and they are all interested in investing in the Philippines through the special economic zones program of PEZA.”
“They are so interested to lease our agricultural lands, they are importing agricultural products from other countries. So now that they know that we will be putting up special economic zones for agro-forestry and agro-industrial, they are going to lease a million hectares. And we will develop that economic zone for agriculture and buy the agricultural products and we will give back to the Filipinos the profit by putting up social projects like school buildings and hospitals,” she added.
Plaza said that PEZA’s focus on the Middle East market is very timely because of the independent foreign policy stance of President Rodrigo Duterte.
She explained, “Before, our mindset was to only deal with democratic countries, non-Muslim countries, and we didn’t realize that this is where the money is.”
The government will offer the investors leases for a maximum of 75 years as provided by the law, Plaza said.
“What we are offering our foreign investors is to lease for 75 years, that is provided by the law. All our agricultural areas, agro-forestry areas and then the islands that they are going to convert into cities, which falls under the Duterte program that the President has been planning really to look for investors and build cities in our islands,” she said.
Plaza said PEZA is meeting with different agencies to identify available areas.
“We are still meeting with the DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] and the Philippine Reclamation Authority so that they can give us a listing of the islands and the lands available for us to offer to these investors,” Plaza said.