The Philippines is keen to partner with Qatar in the development of the Southeast Asian country’s Islamic banking system, a ranking official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Sunday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the four-day Doha leg of the DTI’s ‘Outbound Business Matching Mission (OBMM) to GCC 2020’, DTI-Trade Promotions Group (TPG) undersecretary Abdulgani M Macatoman said the Philippines could benefit from Qatar’s expertise in Islamic banking and Shariah-compliant policies.
“The Philippines has abundant opportunities for partnerships in many sectors, among which is Islamic banking, and we are looking forward to working with Qatar in this particular field,” Macatoman told Gulf Times.
Macatoman is in Qatar to lead a trade delegation composed of representatives from 11 Philippine business companies participating in the DTI’s OBMM initiative, which concludes Monday. The OBMM was organised in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy in Qatar.
The DTI undersecretary’s delegation also includes Philippine commercial attache for the Middle East and Africa Charmaine Mignon S Yalong, DTI-EMB senior trade and industry development Specialist Myrtle Faye L Solina, and trade and industry development specialist Al-Mahdi I Jul-Ahmad.
“Part of our campaign is to encourage prospective Qatari investors to look at the possibility of venturing into the Islamic banking system in the Philippines,” Macatoman continued, adding that while in Qatar the Philippine delegation was able to speak to two potential partners in this field.
The trade undersecretary also noted that following the suggestion of Philippine ambassador to Qatar Alan Timbayan, talks are also in the pipeline to explore the possibility of putting up Shariah-compliant pawnshops in the Philippines, citing the 2.3mn overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who could benefit from the idea.
Following the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s (BSP) approval of initial regulations implementing Republic Act (RA) 11439 or the new Islamic Banking Law, Macatoman stressed that many Filipinos will benefit from this, particularly “the more than 10mn ‘unbanked’ Filipinos,” most of whom are from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao.
The BSP website states that in August 2019, Philippine President Rodrigo R Duterte signed RA 11439 mandating the BSP to exercise regulatory powers and supervision over the operations of Islamic banks and to issue the implementing rules and regulations on Islamic banking.
According to BSP governor Benjamin E Diokno, “RA 11439 will unlock the full potential of Islamic financing in fostering inclusive economic growth. With a well-defined regulatory framework now in place, the BSP looks forward to seeing greater participation in Islamic financing by both domestic and foreign banks.”
“This is expected to widen opportunities for Muslim Filipinos, including those from the Bangsamoro Region, in accessing banking products and services. This is a great stride in our financial inclusion mandates,” Diokno added.