Foreign business groups welcome move to ease foreign restrictions

November 25, 2017 News

Foreign business leaders are elated with President Duterte's recent call to ease restrictions on investment areas with limited foreign participation, saying such a move will lead to more investments and spur faster economic growth. 

Leaders of the American, European, Korean, and Canadian business chambers in the Philippines told The STAR that Duterte's directive to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board to relax restrictions on eight investment areas is a step towards the right direction for the country. 

"The President's memorandum order is unprecedented in its scope and goal to make the economy more competitive and more open to foreign investment, which is much needed to help meet the seven to eight percent GDP growth target," said John Forbes, senior advisor of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines. 

"The Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines strongly supports the 10­point economic agenda of the Duterte administration. In this context, we are very pleased with Thursday's announcement by the President instructing departments and agencies to remove restrictions on foreign investment administratively where this is possible (such as in the construction industry) and to support legislative amendments in cases where this is required," Julian Payne, the group's president, said separately. 

Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Ho Ik Lee said the memorandum order has already been circulated to all its members. 

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Guenter Taus, for his part, said easing foreign ownership limits in the country is a major boost to the local economy and would make it easier for European firms to market the Philippines.

 "We as a chamber have been working for decades to ease restrictions on foreign direct participation in all aspects of business in order to level the playing field and give better and better priced services and goods to the Filipino people. This is indeed a most welcome news," Taus said. 

The investment areas covered by Duterte's order are private recruitment, practice of particular professions, contracts for the construction and repair of locally­funded public works, public services except activities and systems that are recognized as public utilities, culture, production, milling, processing, and trading, teaching at higher education levels, retail trade enterprises, and domestic market enterprises. 

CanCham's Payne said easing or lifting of the restrictions would not be a zero­sum game with risk of local companies being crowded out. 

AmCham's Forbes urged the responsible agencies and Congress to follow the lead of the chief executive to attract more investments and boost employment.

Source: The Philippine Star - Richmond Mercurio