TO RAISE the Philippines’ level of competitiveness, President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the National Economic and Development Authority to take “immediate steps” to lift or ease restrictions on foreign investments in at least eight priority areas.
In his Memorandum Order No. 16 issued Nov. 21 but only released Thursday, Duterte ordered concerned agencies to take immediate steps in lifting or easing existing restrictions on foreign participation in: private recruitment for local and overseas employments; practice of particular professions, where allowing foreign participation will redound to the public benefit; contracts for the construction and repair of locally-funded public works; teaching at higher education levels; retail trade enterprises; and domestic market enterprises.
The order also covers public services, except activities and systems recognized as public utilities such as transmission and distribution of electricity, water, pipeline distribution system, and sewerage pipeline system.
It also calls for the easing of government restriction on culture, production, milling, processing, and trading except retailing of rice and corn and acquiring by barter, purchase or otherwise, rice, corn, and other by-products.
This move aims to amend the Tenth Regular Foreign Investment Negative List under Executive Order No. 184 issued in 2015, in accordance with the objectives of the order.
Members of the Neda board were also directed to immediately advise the President regarding restrictions on foreign participation, which may already be lifted or eased without the need of legislation and support legislative efforts that may be necessary to eliminate the said restrictions, including a pending legislation seeking to clarify the definition of public utilities.
The foreign investment negative list was formulated by virtue of Republic Act No. 7042, or the “Foreign Investments Act of 1991,” which provides for the formulation of a Regular FINL covering investment areas/activities open to foreign investors and/or reserved to Filipino nationals.
The list also indicates the extent of foreign equity participation in specific investment activities.