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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        11  March 2011

Philippines expects Middle Eastern investments

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The Philippine government expects investments from the Middle East to flow into the Philippines this year despite the current hostilities in the region.

Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Crisanto Panlilio said the government is eyeing a combined $1.5 billion, or roughly P65-billion worth of investments from the Middle East and Europe to be poured into the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative of the Aquino administration.

Fresh from a two-week visit to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Doha, Qatar and various parts of the European Union (EU), Panlilio met with businessmen and government officials from those countries.

He said business delegations from France, Spain, Switzerland and the UK would come to the Philippines this year.

Existing multinational companies as well as new firms from the EU would likely infuse a total of up to $1 billion for maiden as well as expansion projects within the year, the official said. Businessmen from the Middle East are looking at about $500-million worth of projects in the Philippines, as companies mull over transferring operations to Southeast Asia and China from strife-torn Northern Africa.

"We just have to nudge them to send in more FDI [foreign direct investment] sooner," Panlilio said, citing firms involved in the aviation, business process outsourcing, energy, food, mining, oil exploration, personal care, and tourism sectors.

He said UK investors are eyeing participation in railroad projects under the PPP framework. "We will give more detailed presentations of the five PPP projects to be rolled out to [counterpart] investment authorities," he said.

Fresh data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that FDI in 2010 fell short of its forecast.

In a statement, the BSP said full-year FDI posted net inflows of $1.7 billion, or $300 million short of the $2 billion forecast for 2010. The full-year figure was 12.7 percent lower than the $2 billion inflows in 2009.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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