THE Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to start scoping discussions on a possible comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA).

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez in a statement on Thursday said he met with UAE's Ministers of State and Foreign Trade, Minister Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh and Minister Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi on December 8 at the sidelines of the Global Business Forum Asean to discuss deepening of economic relations between the two countries.

"Both governments recognize the large potential to expand bilateral trade and investment relations and are working towards the finalization of key agreements that will pave the way for the start of the broader CEPA negotiations," Lopez said.

According to the trade chief, the CEPA will build on the shared objectives of the Philippines and UAE being pursued under the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Economic and Technical Cooperation and the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) which are both underway.

He added that the MOU on Economic and Technical Cooperation provides for the establishment of a Joint Economic Commission which will facilitate the implementation of cooperation initiatives on trade and investment particularly in the areas of agribusiness, manufacturing, renewable energy, real estate development, logistics, transportation, communication, tourism, technology, and innovation.

Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times’ daily newsletters
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

"In addition, the Philippines-UAE IPPA is expected to further deepen economic relations between the two countries by creating favorable conditions for investments and stimulating business initiatives while ensuring that the interests and sensitivities of both Parties are protected," said Lopez.

The IPPA aims to promote and facilitate UAE investments to the Philippines in key sectors of interest such as agribusiness, energy efficiency technologies and renewable energy, infrastructure, IT-BPM, oil and gas, and tourism.

Net foreign direct investments from UAE for the first nine months of the year amounted to $2.43 million.

On the other hand, UAE hosts known Philippine franchise brands and over a thousand Filipino-owned businesses in sectors such as food and beverage, trading and logistics, consultancy and other creative services, education and training, and hospitality services.

"Given our economic complementarities and the strong ties between our peoples, we are optimistic that the proposed CEPA with UAE will redound to mutual benefits and will play an important role in accelerating the growth trajectory of the Philippine economy," Lopez said.