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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - MANILA: New agreements with Saudi Arabia are expected to generate 220,000 jobs for Filipinos, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Saturday as he reached home after the Gulf Cooperation Council’s summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Riyadh.
The GCC-ASEAN summit on Friday was the first top-level engagement between the two blocs since they established relations in 1986. The Philippines is one of the biggest countries of the political and economic union of 10 states in Southeast Asia.
“I have arrived back from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after a very short, but I can say, successful and productive visit,” Marcos told reporters as he reached the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
“The summit provided an opportunity to project the Philippines’ longstanding promotion of a rules-based international order, which is essential to the maintenance of peace, security and stability in our regions which sit astride two of the most vibrant ceilings of trade and communications in the world.”
The Philippine delegation accompanying the president to the summit inked deals with Saudi business leaders during the Saudi-Philippine business roundtable meeting on Thursday.
The agreements covered training, human resources and services for the deployment of Filipinos across a wide range of industries in the Kingdom, including healthcare, hospitality and construction.
“These agreements are expected to generate more than $4.2 billion and an additional 220,000 jobs for Filipinos over the next few years,” Marcos said.
Ahead of the GCC-ASEAN summit, the Philippine president was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“I had the opportunity to meet the crown prince and prime minister of Saudi Arabia. We exchanged views on issues of common concern to our two countries and I expressed hope that we can sustain the momentum of high-level exchanges as we expand cooperation in key areas of mutual benefit to our people,” Marcos said.
“It was very encouraging because the crown prince made it very clear to me that the Filipinos will play a very important part in the continuing growth of their economy.”
Out of about 1.8 million overseas Filipinos in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, half live and work in Saudi Arabia, which has for decades been their preferred overseas employment destination.
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