Infra upgrade, open economy top investors' wish list

July 12, 2016 News

Better infrastructure and a more liberalized economy topped the wish list of European investors in the country for the new administration. While these may be considered "obvious choices," these concerns continue to impact the country’s attractiveness as a trade partner and investment destination, they said. "The Philippines has to be competitive among its peers in ASEAN in all aspects of infrastructure, from roads and highways to airports and seaports," Nordic Business Council of the Philippines (NBCP) president Bo Lundqvist told The STAR. Lundqvist, who also serves as president and CEO at Retail Software Associates Corp., said the country’s infrastructure for energy, information and communication technology (ICT), and education and healthcare are likewise in need of bolstering. "This is needed in order to attract foreign investment as it impacts efficiency on the day­to­day," he said. Aside from challenges in infrastructure, European businessmen also want the new administration to open up the Philippine economy to allow more foreign investments to come in. "Liberalization of economic restrictions in the Constitution and amendment of restrictive legislation, such as the Retail Trade Liberalization Law, the Public Services Act and the Government.

Procurement Reform Act, is among thetop of our wish list," European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) president Guenter Taus said. "Opening up the economy would breakdown the barriers for trade and ease of doing business for foreigners and locals alike. Easing the limitations on foreign ownership is key in continued economic growth. More jobs would be created by allowing business to grow, generating employment and an inclusive economy," Lundqvist added. In terms of trade, the leaders of both ECCP and NBCP naturally want the new administration to support the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation between the European Union and the Philippines. "We also look forward to a proactive approach towards concluding the EU­Philippine FTA, with the upcoming second round of negotiations as an important opportunity for the new administration to show its commitment to the FTA," Taus, who also serves as managing director at Jardine Engineering Corp. Philippines, said. The Philippines is currently the EU’s sixth largest trading partner in the region and 44th worldwide. The EU, on the other hand, is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade amounting to P738 billion. The Department of Trade and Industry has said the UK’s decision to leave the EU would not impact the ongoing EU­FTA negotiations and would have minimal effect on the Philippine’s trade and investment climate.

Source: The Philippine Star