Duterte invites Saudi businessmen to invest in PH

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(CNN Philippines, April 13) — President Rodrigo Duterte extended an invitation to businessmen in Saudi Arabia to invest in the country.

"We need investments in my country, and if you may want to go there and invest, we can give you the best place and best advice to go about earning in my country," Duterte said during his speech before members of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry on April 12.

Duterte said investments in the country would mean more jobs for Filipinos.

He assured the businessmen there is no "corruption in his administration."

"Anytime that you feel there is promise of business in my country, feel free. We give you the best incentives and the best environment that we can offer for you," the President said.

Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo in a statement said the President's visit in Saudi focused on three aspects: "people, progress and partnership."

Manalo added the government wants to engage Saudi investments in Mindanao for "its sectors of halal food security, energy security and tourism."

Jobs for Filipinos

In his speech, Duterte thanked Saudi Arabia for the employment opportunities that have been given to Filipino workers.

"I have to make the trip to thank you, Saudi Arabia, for hosting almost a million workers here. I hope that their industry (helps) your economy because they also help my country," he said.

In a press conference on April 7, the Department of Foreign Affairs said there were over 760,000 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia.

In 2016, remittances sent by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia reached ₱131 billion.

Manalo said the President's trip to the Middle East will draw more investors to the Philippines.

"We believe the ties will greatly benefit the Philippines and the Filipinos, and will strengthen counter-terrorism, combat illegal drugs...(and boost) economic partnership."

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said his counterpart in the Saudi government also agreed to negotiate new rules to improve working conditions for OFWs.

"We are meeting with the Minister of Labor regarding the bilateral agreements that we signed....Basically, these agreements refer to the labor standards that provided our OFWs with rules on better wages, protection from maltreatment, working hours and other labor issues," Bello said.

Duterte has been in the Middle East since Monday. He is scheduled to be there until April 16, visiting Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.