Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo: EPA/VNA)

Cairo (VNA) – Saudi Arabia and the Philippines have signed several bilateral agreements on cooperation in labour matters and drug control during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to the Middle East country.

Saudi Arabia will still need more Filipino workers despite its "Saudization" policy, the Philippines’ Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello said on April 12 following a meeting between President Duterte and Saudi Arabian King Salman.

He said Saudi officials told him they still need Filipinos who work in fields ranging from construction, domestic work, healthcare, retail to engineering, telecommunications, transport and the oil industry.

The information was released in the context that Saudi Arabia is implementing economic reforms with a target of reducing the unemployment rate to 9 percent in 2020 from 11.6 percent in 2016 which aims to intensify the use of local workers.

Saudi Arabia is the second largest employer of overseas Philippine workers in the Middle East with 760,000 people.

Labour export is a big source of foreign currency of the Philippines. Remittances sent from the Middle East by Philippine workers reached 7.5 billion USD last year.

President Duterte said that along with labour affairs, his visit is to expand cooperation in investment, trade, security, energy and drug combat.-VNA