Delegation seeks Saudi investment in Mindanao

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Saudi Gazette | Tuesday, 03 February 2009

By Ronaldo Concha

Jeddah – A 14-member delegation from the Philippines highlighted the country’s vast trade, investment and tourism potential, particularly in the Muslilm region of Mindanao, during a meeting with Saudi businessmen at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry last week.

Speaker of the House of the Representative Prospero Nograles traveled to the Kingdom to promote Southern Mindanao as a potential supplier of goods and services.

The delegates were discussing investment where the Southern Philippine Development Authority (SPDA) has 26,000 hectares of land in its possession.

“The Southern Philippine should not left out when Saudi Arabia thinks of agriculture because Mindanao is considered the food bastions of the Philippines,” Nograles said in a presentation.

Mindanao is the second largest island in the southernmost section of the Philippine archipelago. According to Nograles the vision of the political leaders of Mindanao is that if the 26,000 hectares of contiguous agricultural land can be developed in the joint venture partnership with the Saudi chamber of commerce, a lease agreement could gurantee 50 years of food security for the Kingdom.

Nograles said an agreement would be a very good opportunity for both countries as well as helping uplift the economic conditions of the Southern Philippines. “This is our state and we have 10, 20, or 30 thousand jobs immediately ready and if the land is developed, it can be a Philippine-Saudi economic zone. Nograles said that the overall proposal would divide the 26,000 thousand hectares of land into: 10,000 hectares for rubber, coffee, fruit drinks, another 10,000 for agricultural crops like banana, sugarcane, corn, cassava 5,000 for protection, conservation, reforestation, and 1,000 would be set aside for industries, cold storage, warehouses, etc.

Saleh Al Turki, former chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that Saudi government decided to spend funds to import agricultural produce.

Nograles said the land will be purchased or leased.

He also told the delegates that they will coordinate with Philipine Ambassador Wali to confirm that they are capable of recommending Mindanao as an investment opportunity.

Nograles also thanked the Saudi government for allowing over a million of Filipino workers to participate in their nation building. He said history later will say that Philippines was part of the nation building process of Saudi Arabia. He said they are very happy for the feedback they are getting that Filipinos in Saudi Arabia are very adaptable, very hardworking and can easily assimilate into the culture of Saudi Arabia. He hoped that in the near future where people are laying off their employees all over the world the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will continue to get more of the Filipino workers in health services and construction fields.

Nograles was accompanied by the SPDA (Southern Philippine Development Authority) Administrator Sultan Yahyah Jerry Tomawis, Deputy Speaker Simeon A. Datumanong, Congressman Nur G. Jaafar, Congressman Munir M. Arbison, Congressman Mujiv S. Hataman, Congressman Yusop H. Jikiri, Special Envoy for Tourism and Investment Harry Angping, Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan of the Department of Energy, Director General Rodolfo V. Vicerra of the Congressional Planning and Budget Department, Executive Director of the House of the Representatives Jericho Jonas Nograles, Maria Luisa Romero Chairperson of the Philippine Saudi Business Council, investor from Holland Jacob Van Der Skuis, businessman Alberto C. Nograles and their consultant Morgan Kisselburg Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor, Philippine Consul General Jeddah Ezzedin Tago and Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Mohammad Ameen Wali was also present in the dialogue.
Original source: Saudi Gazette
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