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PIA Press Release

PGMA leaves for Qatar this weekend on trade, investment mission

Manila (9 December) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will leave this weekend for Qatar to enlist support for her administration's efforts to end the decades-old conflict in Mindanao and invite Middle East businessmen to invest in the Philippines.

In an interview with UNTV's Jay Sonza in Malacanang, the President said she will also meet with Filipino expatriate workers in Qatar and other countries in the Middle East.

Her Qatar visit, the President said, was planned as early as last January when she attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, where she met the Qatari prime minister, who also attended the forum.

"Maraming dahilan ang pagpunta ko sa Qatar," she said. First off, the Philippines must seek out investments from countries with no liquidity problems in the midst of the global financial crisis. Middle East countries, buoyed by their oil revenue, fit this bill, the President pointed out.

"Unang-una, sa ngayong mga panahon, nagkakaroon ng financial problems ang halos buong mundo, yung may liquidity ngayon because of the many years of high oil prices -- Middle East," she said.

"In fact, duon sa Davos last January, gusto ng maki-pag-meeting sa akin yung prime minister noon. Kaya lang, my schedule was so tight, sabi ko ako na lang pupunta sa Qatar," the President Said.

The Qatari premier "happens also to head the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA)."

"Malaki ang pera ngayon ng Middle East, ng Investment Authority," she said.

Pushing inter-faith dialogue, one of her successful initiatives, is another reason for her Qatar visit, the President said. "Pangalawa, dahil importante and inter-faith dialogue sa paghahanap ng kapayapaan -- ang Qatar maganda ang papel sa peace process sa Lebanon -- kaya baka makakatulong din sila sa atin."

"Pangatlo, dumaan itong panganib o kinatatakutan ng ating mga overseas Filipinos," said the President about fears of massive lay-offs because of the global financial crunch.

Thus, "pupuntahan din natin ang situation doon, sa Qatar, para tingnan ang kabuuan ng Middle East, so hindi lang sa Qatar," she said, adding that the incoming Philippine ambassador to Nigeria would also check on the labor situation there. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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