MANILA: The strengthening of ties between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Gulf Cooperation Council will benefit Saudi-Philippine relations, the Kingdom’s envoy to Manila told Arab News ahead of next week’s ASEAN-GCC summit in Riyadh.

GCC members consist of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE. Their engagements with the political and economic union of 10 states in Southeast Asia, which included the Philippines, have been on the rise in recent years.

Next week, top leaders of the two blocs are scheduled to meet in the Saudi capital for their first joint summit.

“The upcoming meeting of the GCC and ASEAN countries scheduled for Oct. 20, 2023, in Riyadh, with the participation of the leaders of the states, is expected to emphasize the importance of enhancing political and strategic relations,” Saudi Ambassador Hisham bin Sultan Al-Qahtani told Arab News on Friday.

“The meeting aims to encourage trade and economic cooperation and promote joint investments. Such collaborations are poised to strengthen political, economic and strategic ties, fostering mutual growth and development for both the Kingdom and the Philippines.”

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is expected to lead the Philippine delegation to the summit and will be accompanied by key members of his Cabinet.

Al-Qahtani said that several agreements are set to be signed on the sidelines of the meetings and are “poised to contribute significantly to enhancing the existing bilateral cooperation between the two friendly nations.”

He added that Saudi-Philippine ties have been seeing continuous development across various sectors and “remain a model of successful political, cultural and economic cooperation between states, promoting the exchange of expertise and knowledge, thereby enhancing regional and international peace and stability.”

The ambassador told Arab News that in the trade sector the position of the Philippines was growing as the Kingdom’s export destination at an annual rate of 12.9 percent.

“In addition to trade, the Kingdom plays a crucial role in attracting Filipino labor, holding a leading position within the Gulf Cooperation Council. The number of Filipino workers in the Kingdom exceeds 1 million, contributing a significant amount of $1 billion in remittances to the Philippine economy in 2022,” he said.

“This economic contribution forms an essential part of the economic development in the Philippines and aligns with the Vision 2030 of the Kingdom, emphasizing its commitment to fostering economic growth and collaboration on a global scale.”

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