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Foreign traders push for 3 bills to ease investment restrictions

Foreign business groups supported the call of the government’s economic managers for Congress to swiftly approve three bills that aim to lift or ease restrictions on the entry of foreign investments.

The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines said in a statement these measures would help create more jobs and bring in new technologies to improve the global competitiveness of the Philippines.

The group, which counts the biggest organizations of foreign businesses, said the bills aimed to amend the Foreign Investment Act, the Retail Liberalization Act of 2000 and the Public Service Act. 

Lowering the employment threshold for foreigners investing at least $100,000 in small and medium enterprises here is among the key amendments being sought under the Foreign Investments Act.  

Amendments to the Retail Liberalization law seeks to reduce the minimum paid-up capital required for foreign investments in retail trade, while revisions to the Public Service Act seek to redefine public utilities and thereby lift ownership restrictions on certain sectors such as telecommunications.

The letter was signed by James Wilkins, president of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc.; Daniel Alexander, president of Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Julian Payne, president of Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc.; Nabil Francis, president of European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Naoto Tago, president of Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines Inc.; Ho Ik Lee, president of Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; and Evelyn Ng, president of Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc.

The joint statement issued last month by the Departments of Finance and Budget and Management along with the National Economic and Development Authority on the performance of the economy in the fourth quarter and the whole of 2018 called on Congress to approve these investment-friendly bills, which they described as “needed and urgent” to “help attract foreign investments in manufacturing.” 

This sector, the economic managers said, remained an “area of concern,” given its lackluster performance during that year. 

The JFC said it was in “strong agreement” with this call, considering that such reforms “will attract large amounts of new foreign investment, provide more jobs and transfer important technology for the betterment of the Philippine economy.”

“We ask the Department of Finance to recommend to President Duterte to certify the bills as urgent,” the JFC said in a Jan. 25 letter to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.  

The JFC, in a letter to the President’s economic team, also appealed for the swift passage of the Open Access to Data Transmission Act and the amendments to the Charter of the National Telecommunications Commission, which the group said were necessary to “achieve substantial reforms in the ICT sector [that are] crucial to Philippine development.” 

It also urged Dominguez to recommend to President Duterte to endorse as urgent these two bills that aim to narrow the digital divide in the country. 

The JFC assured Dominguez of its “commitment to increase investment in the country and to create more jobs for Filipinos.”

Topics: Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines , foreign investment restrictions
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