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The Philippines, through the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Trade and Investment Center – Dubai (PTIC-Dubai) recently joined the Sharjah FDI Forum 2016, hosted by The Financial Times. The event was organized in partnership with the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah.

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) plans of positioning itself as a financial and investment hub for the Middle East and its neighboring regions became this year’s central theme – “Sharjah FDI Forum: The Gateway to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.” At present, UAE is the second largest recipient of foreign direct investments (FDI) in the Middle East, receiving around USD 10 billion (UNCTAD report) to USD 13 billion (Financial Times) of investments in 2014.

 “We would like to explore more opportunities for the Philippines in these plans of UAE,” said PTIC-Dubai Commercial Attache Eric Elnar.

 “These growing city-states are potential markets especially for our hospitality, food, and beverage sectors. Construction and real estates are also considered,” added Elnar.

According to PTIC-Dubai, the UAE continues to maintain a business-friendly atmosphere, with no personal and corporate income taxes imposed (except for foreign banks in Dubai) and minimal taxes on most goods coming into the country. It is also part of the growing market for halal products.

Also present during the forum is Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade and Industry Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Economy. In his remarks, the Undersecretary mentioned the UAE’s efforts in diversifying its economy and moving away from its dependence on oil. According to him, the future economy of the UAE will be built on FDI, the knowledge industry, and trade.

Dr. Parag Khanna, Director of the Global Governance Initiative and American Strategy Programme, New America Foundation discussed how globalization is creating modern silk roads, and south-south networks are becoming ever more dominant in the region. Parag noted the new emerging trend which is known as “city-states,” where mega-cities are driving economic growth for countries and blurring the lines between national borders. He cited as examples the Pearl River Delta and Indonesia-Singapore-Malaysia growth triangles. In the UAE, city-state such as Dubai-Sharjah and Abu Dhabi-Al Ain are also growing.

During the forum, DTI-PTIC Dubai was represented by Commercial Attaché Eric Elnar, together with the Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes, Agriculture Attaché Gil Herico and Trade Assistant Bugshan Tendegaranao.

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