Filipino Investment Expert PEZA DDG Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal Making it Happen in the Philippines

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  • TASNEEM A. ESHMAEL, Special to SDN — SciTech and Digital News
PEZA DDG Aleem Siddiqui M. Guiapal, investment & promotion expert at PEZA.

MANILA — Fresh from accomplishing his higher education as scholar of the Fulbright-Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow in Economic Development at Michigan State University, United States, in 2018, Aleem Siddiqui M. Guiapal went back to the Philippines and joined the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

Known to be the leading Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) in the country, PEZA is a perfect match for Aleem and vice versa. Needing boost in networking and promotion, the agency hired the right man for the job. Shortly before the pandemic, Aleem was appointed as Group Manager (GM) of the Promotions and Public Relations Group (PPRG). From then on, he bridged the much-needed work to proactively build alliances of PEZA with stakeholders, business groups, and export partners in the local, national, and international levels.

“Investments come in at higher rate and chances when there is strong actions to steer attention and appreciation to Philippines as best investment choice. Not passively, as we know competition for FDIs is tough even among ASEAN members. I’m grateful for the trust and opportunity given to me to be of service to my fellow Filipinos through sharing leadership in PEZA,” says Aleem.

Aleem is a multi-awarded civil servant and changemaker. He is a subject matter expert in Philippine investments, strategy, and stakeholder management. He led various institutions both in the public and private sectors in the Philippines and credited in bringing an international brand to Philippine government investment promotions initiatives for the past 10 years. He recently facilitated a business forum in Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, India, and Malaysia during the pandemic. Prior, he co-led investment and economic missions in the US, Asia and in the Middle East.

Read: PEZA Confident of more South Korean Investors Coming to Philippines in Q4 2022

He also supported financial inclusion policies in the Philippines. One of his milestones is joining the champions from the House of Representatives (HOR) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) who pushed the passage into law of Republic Act 11439, also known as “An Act Providing for the Regulation and Organization of Islamic Banks”. Acknowledged in his contributions in financial inclusion and economic development, he was cited as One of the Top 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. He was also recognized by the HRD Asia Awards in Jakarta, Indonesia for his “Contribution to Society” along with leaders from Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

 

From REZA to PEZA

“Before I joined PEZA, I was the head of the Regional Economic Zone Authority (REZA) of then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It is my honor to join the national leading IPA for ecozones and exports,” recalls Aleem.

Coming from the local level and the outskirts in the country, i.e., an autonomous region, that is striving to establish peace and development under a peace process, Aleem openly took the challenge and opportunity to lead PEZA’s promotions group and prove that a Moro professional can bring greater heights in the country’s investment competitiveness.

“I’m carrying with me identities that give me strengths and courage to do my best with humility, integrity, and sincerity in public service. These include being a Filipino and a Moro, moreso a Muslim Filipino. I took the helm of GM of PEZA’s Promotion Group at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, but there’s no backing down. We forge ahead, strive for progress for our country and fellow Filipinos, and bridge linkages to generate investments and employment in the Philippines,” Aleem says.

Meanwhile, while being in PEZA, Aleem continues to look back and give back by bridging technical support to the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in their efforts to establish operating economic zones in their locality neighboring ASEAN countries.

“It matters to me that while we serve PEZA, we continue to facilitate investments in the Bangsamoro region with our joint efforts to share best practices. National development is nurtured with inclusive economic policies,” he emphasizes.

Accomplishments with PEZA

At the beginning of leading PEZA’s PPRG wherein pandemic became game-changer for business operations and continuity, Aleem helped launch the DOLLAR online job expo and online skills training that aimed to facilitate hiring in economic zones for those needing livelihoods at the time of crisis.

Moreover, being a digital marketing and digital communications expert, Aleem helped and led the launch of the “Global Biz with PEZA” since November brazing the economic impact of the pandemic. The Global Biz has served as a platform to continue enticing foreign investors to come and invest to the Philippines through monthly investors’ forum. Other than his fellowship at Michigan State University and American University in Washington D.C., Aleem took his special course on Digital Marketing at University of Maryland in Virgina and Cross-Border Trade at National University of Singapore Executive Education (NUS).

Asked what is behind the Global Biz with PEZA, he explains that “It is where export investors, industry associations, foreign chambers, investment promotion partners, ecozone developers and operators, LGUs (local government units), businesspeople, professional cooperatives, national agencies, economists, and lawmakers meet to discuss business and investment opportunities in PEZA’s ecozones.

Featured in GB with PEZA has included the United States of America, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, United Kingdom, business chambers, financial institutions, and media partners, among others.

Full support to PBBM’s economic plans

In the new President Bongbong Marcos (PBBM) administration, Aleem pushed further the efforts of PEZA to build alliances and strategic partners for attracting new investments. Together with PEZA chief OIC Tereso O. Panga, they welcomed “Pacific Business Mission” to attract investments from Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea in August 2022. In October recently, Aleem joined the Aboitiz InfraCapital that benchmarked the Philippines as an investment haven in Asia in the “Philippine-Korean Investment Forum” held in South Korea. Aleem lauded the confidence given by the OIC Director General with his current post.

“Our efforts are our initiatives and response to the call of President Bongbong Marcos to increase the country’s FDIs. An increase in investment means more jobs for Filipinos. And more jobs mean better and quality of life for our kababayans (countrymen). This is what investment promotion is all about,” Aleem says.

In PEZAs’ report of Q2 performance in 2022, approved investments amounting to Php14.347-billion of investments is 114.93% higher than the Php6.675 billion approved investments for the second quarter of 2021.

Aleem shared gratefulness as well to PEZA management for the inclusion of halal hubs and Islamic finance in its strategies and focus in new frontiers of investments. “We need to engage emerging markets such as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the ASEAN. With this initiative, we earlier signed MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with BSP to jointly promote the establishment of Islamic Banks in the Philippines. On the other hand, we also signed MoU with SPDA (Southern Philippines Development Authority) and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), respectively, for the creation of Halal Hubs,” he points.

Ecozones as strategic priority in PH

Under the PBBM administration, PEZA interim chief Officer-in-Charge Tereso O. Panga has designated Aleem as Officer-in-Charge Deputy Director General (DDG) for Finance and Administration. This is concurrent of his continued leadership of the agency’s investment promotion and communications team in PPRG.

“We in PEZA thank President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. for acknowledging the strategic importance of ecozones in enhancing the business and investment climate in the Philippines,” says Aleem.

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2022, the President emphasized, among others, the vital role of ecozones as drivers for economic growth and development which will strengthen the promotion of the country as an investment destination. (/)

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