The Philippines and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have agreed to cooperate further to enhance trade and investment, regional cooperation, as well as combatting terrorism and promoting regional and global peace and stability.
Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia Robert E. A. Borje met with Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Dr. Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf Monday, tackling a wide range of issues affecting the Philippines and the regional bloc.
During the meeting, the President’s Special Envoy has expressed gratitude for the opportunity given by the GCC secretary general to discuss issues of mutual interest.
He said relations between the Philippines and GCC are key to addressing the global coronavirus pandemic, noting that as the country rebounds from the impact of the contagion, increased cooperation with GCC would be necessary.
As a response, GCC Secretary General Dr. Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf said he appreciates the GCC-Philippines relations especially during the current coronavirus pandemic.
The GCC head said that although the pandemic has brought challenges, it also created opportunities that both the GCC and the Philippines can seize and maximize.
The GCC values its relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a group and has been facilitating investment between ASEAN and Gulf Coast investors. GCC extends assistance and has been helping raise awareness among private investors about the opportunities in the ASEAN.
PAFA Borje said GCC countries can tap the investment opportunities available in the Philippines, which he said, is important as Gulf Coast countries express interest in human investment and in addressing social issues in countries like the Philippines.
GCC Secretary General Al-Hajraf said he is happy to explore cooperation with the Philippines to address those issues.
PAFA Borje noted that a significant portion of the Philippine’s OFW population work in GCC countries, and expressed hope that a GCC with its strong commitment to upholding the rights of migrant workers will benefit overseas Filipinos in the region as well.
The GCC secretary general emphasized the collective commitment by one GCC members to uphold migrant workers’ rights and cited leaders who promised to take care of the region’s migrant workers during the pandemic.
At the same time, Secretary General Al-Hajraf assurred that GCC will not tolerate human trafficking in the region.
The meeting with the GCC secretary general is part of the program for PAFA Borje’s official visit to Saudi Arabia, which aims to strengthen cooperation between the Philippines and the Kingdom and help realize President Duterte’s promise of Kalinga at Malasakit for OFWs globally.
Joining the Special Envoy in the meeting were Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sara Lou Arriola, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Enrico Fos, and Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto.
This is PAFA Borje’s second designation as Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia, after being designated as Special Envoy to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia in 2019.
The GCC is a regional organization composed of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Established in 1981, the GCC objectives are to enhance coordination, integration and inter-connection among its members. ###