DUBAI, Feb 15 (Reuters) – The Philippines and the United Arab Emirates, Manila’s top trade partner in the Middle East, on Tuesday agreed to start negotiations on bilateral trade and investment pact, a joint statement released by the Philippines government said.
Thousands of Filipinos also work in the UAE, sending home more than $1 billion in remittances each year.
Philippines Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi signed the joint statement to start Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations, the statement said.
That followed the two sides concluding talks on an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, it said.
“These initiatives are expected to boost trade and investments between two countries, leading to more diversified economic activities, development of new industries, employment generation, and higher consumer spending as we partner for shared prosperity,” Lopez said.
“The Philippines may serve as a UAE’s strategic hub for the Southeast Asian region, as economic activities continue to shift to Asia.”
Bilateral trade between the two countries rose last year 35.7% to $951 million, the statement said.
The UAE is seeking CEPA agreements with several countries including India, Israel, Turkey, South Korea and Indonesia.
(Writing by Alexander Cornwell
Editing by Tomasz Janowski)
This article originally appeared on reuters.com