May 26, 2023
ECCP at Work
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. thought it was the right time for the Philippines and the European Union (EU) to solidify their long-standing and historically beneficial trade relations through a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). Marcos said this during the 2023 European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the European Union (EU) - Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business Council (EU-ABC) Gala Dinner. In his speech, the President said a bilateral FTA would be a "win-win strategy" for both the Philippines and the EU. "It promises to achieve mutually beneficial economic goals while maintaining consistency with the EU's core ideals of sustainable development and environment protection, as well as with EU's Indo-Pacific strategy," he said.
Businesses from the European Union (EU) are pushing for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and EU as a priority in attracting more foreign direct investments into the country. Chris Humphrey, executive director of the EU-Asean Business Council, in a press conference, echoed the opinion of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) in advocating ease of doing business in the country, saying there is a lot more progress that can be done in cutting bureaucracy and in transparency on government procurement and other areas. According to Humphrey, businesses in Europe are pushing for the FTA and not just for the renewal of the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) plus, having accompanied 70 representatives from 36 companies in Europe currently in the Philippines. In a separate meeting, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said a successful negotiation of the FTA will help the Philippines secure additional duty-free market access beyond those covered by the EU GSP plus scheme and provide a conducive framework for attracting greater investments from the EU.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the European Union-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) have turned over to the Philippine government advocacy papers on 11 priority sectors eyed to help attract more foreign investments. During the 10th European-Philippine Business Dialogue in Makati City Thursday, the business groups said the advocacy papers focused on the sectors of agriculture, automotive, customs and logistics, environment and water, food and beverage, healthcare, human capital and education, infrastructure and aviation, renewable energy and energy efficiency, tax and financial services, and tourism. Early this week, Florian Gottein said the previous advocacy papers of the ECCP and the EU-ABC have pushed for the passage of the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, as well as allowing 100 percent foreign ownership on renewable energy (RE) projects. He said the proposed changes would help the Philippines entice more foreign direct investments (FDIs) not only from Europe but also from other parts of the world.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is pushing for the liberalization of the domestic rice and corn industries, as well as the removal of import tariffs on vehicles and automotive parts, as part of a list of recommendations to the Philippine government. In the 125-page ECCP’s Advocacy Papers 2023 it handed over to Philippine officials on Thursday, the business chamber recommended the review and amendment of laws impeding foreign participation in certain agricultural activities. “It is our position that the liberalization of the rice and corn industry will reaffirm the promotion of productive foreign investments in agriculture as key to national and rural development and will allow such foreign investments to create ripple effects by generating jobs and invigorate the countryside,” the ECCP said.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines said it strongly supports adopting measures in the EU-Philippines Free Trade Agreement that eliminate import duties for automotive vehicles and automotive parts from the EU with immediate effect upon ratification. Based on a recently released automotive advocacy paper by the ECCP, the group said that while there is a positive trend toward market increase, European automobile brands tend to lose out in the Philippine market in terms of price competitiveness because their goods are generally in the high price-tiered segment. The ECCP and its automotive committee said an FTA between the EU and the Philippines would level the playing field for European firms to prosper in the country and offer consumers wider options that could compete in terms of high-quality sustainability and safety standards. The chamber is also seeking increased promotion of the ease of doing business and streamlining of customs processes for automotive parts and products.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) sees a need to amend the Price Act, as the current “procedures” in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) “curtail” business prerogatives to make decisions according to the needs of businesses, especially amid the current global trend of rising production costs. “The ECCP maintains its position that the bills amending the Price Act should support instead a ‘notification’ of price adjustments, instead of ‘approval’, which is what is currently being practiced,” the 2023 ECCP advocacy paper read. Among the chamber’s recommendations is to “limit the definition of the Basic Necessities and Prime Commodities (BNPC) only to goods vital to the needs of consumers for daily existence and sustenance, or those which are deemed essential.” As such, the ECCP is urging lawmakers to be “selective” in determining the products covered, and not to unnecessarily expand or reduce the categories of products in the list, nor to include products with relatively higher price levels or variants of goods catering to high-tier consumer segments such as luxury and/or premium items.
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. thought it was the right time for the Philippines and the European Union (EU) to solidify their long-standing and historically beneficial trade relations through a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). In his speech, the President said a bilateral FTA would be a "win-win strategy" for both the Philippines and the EU. "It promises to achieve mutually beneficial economic goals while maintaining consistency with the EU's core ideals of sustainable development and environment protection, as well as with the EU's Indo-Pacific strategy," he said. With this, Marcos encouraged members of the EU-ABC and the ECCP to actively advocate for the resumption of negotiations for a bilateral FTA and to strive for fair treatment and beneficial reciprocity.
The Department of Transportation (DoTr) on Wednesday made a pitch to foreign investors as it seeks to drum up interest for big-ticket infrastructure transport projects of the Marcos administration. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista asked top officials of the European Union-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (EU-Asean) Council and European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) to invest in big-ticket infrastructure transport projects. Bautista highlighted the added value of projects being implemented by the agency in partnership with international financial institutions, foreign governments and business groups.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) yesterday urged top officials of the European Union-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (EU-Asean) Council and European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) to invest in big-ticket infrastructure transport projects. In a statement, Jaime Bautista, DOTr secretary, said the project financing from foreign investors presents the most viable option to implement major infrastructure projects due to budgetary constraints. “The biggest obstacle has always been fund sourcing, considering the strained national budget of our government after coming out of the pandemic,” Bautista explained during informal discussions with officials of the EU-Asean Business Council and ECCP.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) yesterday urged top officials of the European Union-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (EU-Asean) Council and European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) to invest in big-ticket infrastructure transport projects. In a statement, Jaime Bautista, DOTr secretary, said the project financing from foreign investors present the most viable option to implement major infrastructure projects due to budgetary constraints. “The biggest obstacle has always been fund sourcing, considering the strained national budget of our government after coming out of the pandemic,” Bautista explained during informal discussions with officials of the EU-Asean Business Council and ECCP. These projects include the proposed privatization of the operation and management of the country’s premier international gateway, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and the New Manila International Airport investment, according to Bautista.
The Department of Energy (DoE) said the Philippine Energy Plan due out in September will include the expected share of nuclear power in the energy mix. “The nuclear studies will be in the Philippine Energy Plan which is scheduled to be completed by September. By law we have to submit it to Congress every September. The review is ongoing, we have a draft and are seeking internal comment,” Energy Assistant Secretary Mylene C. Capongcol stated. She said the updated energy plan will also discuss the policy direction for renewable energy, downstream oil, natural gas, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and the clean energy transition.The current energy plan covers the 2020-2040 period and focuses on increasing the share of renewable energy. The DoE has said that it is also looking at extending the planning horizon to 2050.
THE EU-Asean Business Council (EU-ABC) said it is now seeing “positive developments” from President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s economic team that will improve the Philippines' standing as a destination for foreign direct investments (FDI) from Europe. “The Philippines is a country of huge potential but unfortunately has, until now, been underperforming compared to some of its Asean neighbors,” Chris Humphrey, Executive Director of the EU-Asean Business Council.However, Humphrey noted, “we are now seeing positive developments from the Economic Team under President Marcos Jr. that will surely improve the standing of the country as a destination for FDI from Europe.” According to Humphrey, being part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will spell a “significant” benefit to the Philippines. Moreover, he said, “Hopefully, we will soon see the recommencement of FTA discussions with the EU: a rapid conclusion of that prospective Agreement, would really put the Philippines on the map for European businesses.” Meanwhile, according to European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) President Lars Wittig, the Philippines’s progress in attracting more foreign direct investments (FDIs) has undergone much “scrutiny” following the enactment of economic reforms and the recent creation of a “green lane” for strategic investments. “Certainly, there is much opportunity for Europe and the Philippines to strengthen their economic ties, especially in line with their longstanding trade and investment relations,” Wittig noted.
The Philippine economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank said, as it expressed support for the Marcos administration’s efforts to promote sustainable growth. World Bank managing director for operations Anna Bjerde reiterated the lender’s “strong support” for the government’s vision of becoming a “prosperous, inclusive and poverty-free society” by 2040 during a courtesy visit to Cabinet members at Malacañang last Tuesday, according to a statement from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO). Bjerde said the World Bank is committed to supporting the Philippines’ development agenda including climate change, renewable energy transition, food and agriculture, water and sanitation, innovation and digitalization.With the Philippines among those most affected by climate change, she said protecting the poor and vulnerable from disasters will remain part of the World Bank’s priorities in the country.
China has deployed a buoy vessel to the West Philippine Sea, according to ship tracking data, just days after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) placed navigational buoys at Philippine-claimed features in the contested waters. It was not immediately clear why China deployed its largest beacon vessel, the 73-meter-long Haixun173, to the area. According to a state-run report by China Global Television Network during the ship’s commissioning in 2020, the vessel is mainly responsible for setting up buoys and conducting patrols and inspections in the South China Sea. The PCG, which recently dropped buoys as sovereignty markers over some features in the West Philippine Sea, has yet to respond to requests for comment. The PCG installed the buoys early this month off the Philippine-occupied islands of Patag (Flat), Kota (Loaita), Panata (Lankiam Cay), and the fishing grounds of Balagtas (Irving) Reef and Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef for maritime safety and to further assert the country’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction in these waters. INQ
With the percentage of people testing positive for COVID slightly down over the past week, a member of the OCTA Research group said the recent spike in the positivity rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) appears to have peaked. Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), OCTA fellow Guido David said the NCR reported a positivity rate of 25.2 percent on May 21, down from 26.1 percent on May 14. Despite the drop in positivity rate, new cases are still expected to increase as the reproduction number – which measures the number of people that a positive individual may infect – remains above 1.0. OCTA earlier warned that actual cases could be higher as the DOH data only include RT-PCR tests and not the more popular antigen tests.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will not pay Impact Hub Manila P15.3 million for organizing the Pilipinas Debates 2022 because it reportedly failed to submit the required documents. In a two-page letter dated May 19 and sent to Impact Hub’s legal counsel Ma. Karla Denise Frias, Comelec executive director Teopisto Elnas Jr. said that the poll body denied the company’s claim since “upon evaluation, Impact Hub’s demand for payment is not accompanied by the documentary requirements necessary to establish the validity of claim.” He noted that records show the Comelec entered into a memorandum of agreement with Impact Hub on March 7, 2022 for the debates “free of charge of professional services, exclusive of out of pocket expenses, if any.” The Comelec partnered with Impact Hub to produce the five-debate series of Pilipinas Debates 2022 for presidential and vice presidential candidates, with Sofitel Philippine Plaza as the venue of the event. However, the last two debates were rescheduled and eventually canceled by the Comelec after Impact Hub reportedly encountered financial issues with Sofitel.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has directed the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to enable local government units (LGUs) to adapt to the e-government system as part of the government’s digitization efforts. According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) on Wednesday, the President issued the directive to DICT Secretary Ivan Uy during Tuesday’s sectoral meeting in Malacañang on the agency’s pending projects and cybersecurity concerns. DICT announced in December last year the e-government system, which includes the e-Gov Super App, a platform aimed to ensure the digitalization of government systems in the Philippines, including LGUs. According to the PCO, the government's e-Government Priority Projects also include centralizing government cloud services, e-Report for citizens’ feedback and complaints and e-Gov App which will integrate all government services into one platform. In 2022, Philippines ranked 71st out of 131 economies in the global Network Readiness Index, a significant jump from the 85th ranking in 2021.
WITH the revelation that only 30 percent of the 45,000 motorcycle taxi supply in Metro Manila operates at any given time, lawmakers believe that it is important to increase the supply cap to serve Filipino commuters, while providing ample data to the pilot study. In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Angkas CEO George Royeca revealed that less than a third of the motorcycle taxi riders are plying Metro Manila’s roads, especially during rush hour. This prompted Senator Grace Poe to seek the opinion of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) representative to the Technical Working Group (TWG) for Motorcycle Taxis. “While we allocated a total number of 45,000 motorcycle taxis in Metro Manila, we learned that around only 30 percent are operating. As far as the study is concerned, we set the cap 45,000 on the basis for the study. This is just an observation, maybe we cannot get a good sample size because we are assuming 100 percent is operating. Thirty percent out of 45,000 is only roughly 12,000. I will consult with the other members of the TWG and inform the chair— whether or not 12,000 is sufficient to gather data as regards the safety and security of motorcycle taxis,” LTFRB representative Paul Austria said.
MEAT importers are lobbying the economic managers to lower the tariff rate levied across all meat products, including offal, to just 5 percent, arguing that it would keep inflation in check amid global economic and food challenges. The biggest farm coalition called out the importers’ bloc, however, reminding them that with government support being anemic, “tariff is the local industry’s last refuge.” “We write regarding the ongoing MFN [Most Favored Nation] tariff review. MITA had proposed that all meat and edible offal be levied at a 5 percent rate across the board,” the Meat Importers and Traders Association (Mita) said in a letter addressed to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan dated May 22. The letter was also submitted to President Marcos Jr., who concurrently sits as the agriculture chief, and to various Cabinet secretaries like Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno and Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.
The Bureau of Customs (BoC) said it and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) have entered into a partnership to study electronic data exchange in trade transactions. “The collaboration falls under the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (CPTA), a UN treaty that aims to expedite the implementation of digital trade facilitation measures for trade and development,” the BoC said in a statement.The partnership will work on a feasibility study on the electronic exchange of trade-related data and documents in the Philippines.
The national government should legalize motorcycles as taxis, Sen. Grace Poe said in a statement issued on Tuesday. In a hearing on Tuesday, Poe cited the results of a pilot study on the issue conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOTr). A Senate technical working group (TWG) survey also showed that 96% of motorcycle taxi passengers believe that the government should allow motorcycle taxis. “To me, this pilot study is the strength of this policy. Early on, we have seen implementation gaps, So the regulators have enough time to come up with solutions or interventions to improve its regulation once legalized,” said Poe, the author of Senate Bill No. 104 seeking to allow and regulate the use of motorcycles as public utility vehicles.
The local bourse’s main index fell Tuesday as investors await updates on the United States’ debt ceiling talks while the peso corrected after Fitch Ratings changed its outlook on the Philippines’ investment grade rating from negative to stable. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) slipped by 0.26 percent, or 17.27 points, to 6,603.56 points. It was trailed by most of the other counters, with All Shares down by 0.19 percent, or 6.61 points, to 3,527.42 points. Prices of spot gold and US’ gold futures declined by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, due to hawkish comments from some Federal Reserve officials. Meanwhile, the local currency ended the day at 55.725 from the previous day’s 55.82 close against the US dollar. Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort attributed its strengthening partly to the positive ratings action by Fitch Ratings on the Philippines ‘BBB’ credit rating. The debt rater traced its decision to the robust recovery of the domestic economy after the pandemic, the strong external payments position of the country, and the government’s sound economic policy framework. For the day, the peso started the trade at 55.7 and it ranged between 55.75 and 55.57. The average level stood at 55.671.
The Philippines will host the third leg of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meetings from July 27 to 30, which will be attended by business executives from the 21 member economies. In a statement Tuesday, ABAC Philippines chair Tomas Alcantara and ABAC members Aboitiz Group president and chief executive officer Sabin Aboitiz and Joanne de Asis said they are looking forward to welcome over 200 attendees of the ABAC III and showcase the warm hospitality and rich culture of the country. ABAC III’s theme “Equity, Sustainability, and Opportunity” aims to forge discussions and cooperation between the public and private sector in APEC economies. The third leg of ABAC meeting will once again put micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the spotlight along with promoting the environment, social and government (ESG) investing landscape.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading a priority bill of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) that proposes to modernize the Bureau of Immigration (BI). During her sponsorship speech, Committee on Justice chair Juliet Marie Ferrer said the passage of the proposed immigration modernization law under House Bill 8203 is in line with the economic agenda of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. The bill seeks to harmonize existing immigration laws, such as the Commonwealth Act No. 613 or the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, in order to make them more responsive and in touch with international developments in the 21st century. The chamber approved House Bill 8203 through voice voting.
MANILA – The Philippines will receive a USD4-billion funding grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the implementation of the Marcos administration's socio-economic and infrastructure development plans for 2023, Malacañang announced on Tuesday. This developed after President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. met with ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa at the regional development bank's headquarters in Mandaluyong City on Monday, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.Asakawa said the funding grant for 2023 will be used to support the Philippine government's preparation of several "transformative" projects such as the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge Project, the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project and the Integrated Floor Resilience and Adaptation Project. The ADB was the Philippines’ top source of active Official Development Assistance (ODA) among 20 development partners in 2022, accounting for 34 percent (USD10.74 billion for 31 loans and 28 grants) of the USD31.95 billion of the total active ODA.
LOCAL cement manufacturer Holcim Philippines, Inc. has partnered with South Korean cement and concrete producer Sungshin Cement Co. Ltd. to supply the country’s infrastructure projects. In a statement on Tuesday, Holcim Philippines said that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Sungshin on March 28 to work together on Philippine infrastructure projects in which the latter is bidding to participate as a concrete supplier. The Holcim-Sungshin agreement came after the Philippines and South Korea forged an agreement in December last year that allows Manila to access up to $3 billion worth of official development assistance loans from Seoul for infrastructure and green projects.“This strategic partnership is aligned with our goal to increase our participation in important infrastructure projects that advance the country’s development,” Holcim Philippines Senior Vice-President and Head of Infrastructure and Industrial Sales Ram Maganti said.
MANILA – The local bourse’s main index fell Tuesday as investors await updates on the United States’ debt ceiling talks while the peso corrected after Fitch Ratings changed its outlook on the Philippines’ investment grade rating from negative to stable. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) slipped by 0.26 percent, or 17.27 points, to 6,603.56 points. It was trailed by most of the other counters, with All Shares down by 0.19 percent, or 6.61 points, to 3,527.42 points. Industrial registered the biggest drop among the sectoral gauges after it declined by 0.64 percent. It was followed by Mining and Oil, 0.57 percent; Services, 0.33 percent; Holding Firms, 0.29 percent; and Financials, 0.27 percent. Only the Property index gained during the day after it rose by 0.40 percent. Volume reached 1.16 billion shares amounting to PHP6.04 billion.Decliners led advancers at 105 to 80 while 44 shares were unchanged. Luis Limlingan, Regina Capital Development Corporation (RCDC) head of sales, said the PSEi slipped “as the Wall Street awaits a pivotal debt ceiling meeting”, referring to the negotiations between the White House and US lawmakers regarding the proposal to raise the debt ceiling.
Zamboanga City (1st District) Rep. Khymer Adan T. Olaso on Tuesday filed a measure seeking to provide a framework for the conduct and regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and Surrogacy procedures in the Philippines. Olasco filed House Bill 8301 after the World Health Organization (WHO) said one in 10 couples worldwide experience difficulty in conceiving. He said the country does not have a comprehensive legal framework for ART and surrogacy. The bill proposes regulations and guidelines for ART and surrogacy procedures using ethical practices and techniques that prioritize the well-being of all parties involved. It also aims to legally recognize and uphold the reproductive rights of individuals and couples who are looking to start families but are unable to do so on their own.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has directed the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to conduct a regular upgrade of the e-Gov system to ensure its effective implementation at the local level, Malacañang said Wednesday. Marcos issued the directive to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy during a sectoral meeting at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday to discuss the DICT’s pending projects and cybersecurity concerns, Communication Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement. The President told Uy to help the local government units (LGUs) adapt to the rollout of the e-Gov system, a single operating system for all government transactions to ensure faster, more streamlined, and more convenient delivery of public services nationwide.
The Ayala Corp listed energy platform, ACEN Corp., filed a shelf registration with regulators for an offering and sale of up to 25 million shares. In a disclosure sent to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday, ACEN indicated that shelf registration, filed at the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, also included 50 million preferred shares. Broken down, the proposed sale is composed of 25 million preferred shares, with 12.5 million of them priced at P1 apiece. If investor appetite proves robust, the offer has an oversubscription option of up 12.5 million shares. On the other hand, the 50 million preferred shares indicated in the shelf registration were proposed to be offered in several tranches. ACEN noted that the preferred shares included in the offering were non-voting.
Sercomm Corp., leading global manufacturer of telecoms and broadband equipment based in Taiwan, is investing P2.5 billion in Calamba, Laguna to transform the Philippines as its regional hub for the production of professional networking equipment. In a statement, the company said the new facility in Carmelray Industrial Park 1 in Laguna is expected to create 5,000 job opportunities. It will serve as Sercomm’s regional hub to serve North America and Southeast Asia markets, providing a one-stop integrated service of R&D design, manufacturing and quality assurance. The 20,000 square meter facility, which specializes in wireless telecommunication devices such as 5G and fiber products, is a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly building adhering to the highest energy conservation standards. Already, Sercomm also plans to construct Factory Phase II to cope with the growing business. Once completed, Sercomm’s manufacturing and R&D center will span an area covering 48,000 square meters with a total capacity of 40 million units in 2025.
Japanese firms urged the Philippine government to speed up the process of approving ecozone proclamation to be able to provide ready to occupy factory sites in light of the increasing number of Japanese firms expanding in the country. Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Tereso O. Panga, who was guest speaker at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. (JCCIPI), said the issue of delayed proclamation of PEZA approved application for ecozones. The JCCIPI general assembly was attended by 300 members onsite and 70 virtual participants, the largest turnout in any of JCCIPI’s general meetings. For this year alone, PEZA has already approved three big-ticket Japanese investments with a combined investment capital of P20.951 billion. This brought the total Japanese of 884 Japanese enterprises in PEZA contributing P745.637 billion investments and directly employing 345,807 workers. In preparation for the influx of investments to the country, PEZA and JCCIPI are looking for areas of collaboration.
The Philippine economy would likely slow down further in the second quarter of the year due to high inflation, First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) said in a joint report. In the May issue of the Market Call released on Tuesday, May 23, FMIC and UA&P said the country’s economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), may fall slightly below six percent in April from June this year. If realized, the quarter ending June GDP would further weaken from the first three-month growth of 6.4 percent. Inflation still remained elevated in the first four months of the year at 7.9 percent, way above the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) target band of 2.0 percent to 4.0 percent. However, it was albeit lower than 8.3 percent at end-March.
Providing the “right” Intellectual Property (IP) ecosystem could help the Philippines attract more investments, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) said. “Just not being on the [United States Trade Representative Special] 301 report is huge. A lot of countries we go to that’s the one thing they want to get off because being on the 301 report makes it very difficult to attract foreign investments so that is huge,” Kathi Vidal, Director of USPTO and Undersecretary of Commerce said in a meeting with some members of the Philippine news media on Monday. However, Vidal emphasized that “doing all the work to not only stay off of it (USTR Special 301 report) but to really combat counterfeiting and piracy is really important.” Moreover, the USPTO Director said the system is “ripe” right now for foreign investments, citing the efforts being done by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL). “The fact that you are not on 301 list, the fact that you are not on 301 list, the fact that you are really committed to IP, creative industries, and you’re putting your legislative power, you’re putting efforts behind it makes it a very ripe area for investments,” Vidal stressed.
MANILA – European businesses call for the resumption of negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the Philippines for a free trade agreement (FTA). In a press conference in Makati City Monday, EU-ASEAN Business Council (ABC) executive director Chris Humphrey said it is critical for the Philippines to have the EU-Philippines FTA in place before it loses the benefits from the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+). The EU provides the trade preferences to lower-middle income and lower income countries based on the classification of the World Bank, as well as to least developed countries. “The important thing then is to make sure that the FTA is in place when that happens, so you can continue to trade better and smarter with Europe,” he added. Humphrey said they welcome the recent visits of high-level officials from EU countries to the Philippines so that they can witness the developments in the country.
The Department of Energy (DOE) said amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) are meant to update policies and strengthen protection of consumers.DOE Secretary Raphael Lotilla said one of the key updates needed in the law is the clarification of the jurisdiction of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) over the electricity industry vis-a-vis the Energy Regulatory Commission. This stems from the investigation initiated in the past of PCC into simultaneous unscheduled shutdowns of select power plants which led to thin electricity supply in Luzon this week, forcing rotating brownouts. The DOE is proposing the divestment by foreign companies backed by foreign governments of their investments in transmission within 10 years. EPIRA was first enacted in 2001 which led to the privatization of most components of the power industry in the Philippines. Since then, several quarters have been clamoring for either the repeal or amendment of EPIRA, citing its alleged failure to effectively pull down power rates in the country.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is collating figures from sugar mills to determine the actual volume of sugar that needs to be imported by the end of this month, according to acting administrator Pablo Azcona.In a statement yesterday, Azcona said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s instruction is that the final import volume should be based on the latest supply report and must not be more than 150,000 metric tons (MT). “This will include the additional buffer volume of 100,000 MT especially if we consider delaying the opening of mills to September 2023 instead of August to increase productivity,” Azcona added.SRA added as of May 7, only 11 of 24 sugar mills are still in operation, with more set to close down by the end of the month as most of them opened as early as August last year.Based on Department of Agriculture’s monitoring of public markets in the National Capital Region yesterday, prevailing retail price of sugar ranges from P86 to P110 per kg for refined sugar, P82 to P90 per kg for washed sugar and P78 to P95 per kg for brown sugar. Meanwhile, SRA millsite monitoring showed that the composite price of raw sugar as of May 14 was 3,075.55 per 50 kg bag.
The Department of Energy (DoE) wants more supervisory and oversight authority for it and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in amendments it is proposing for the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). Energy Undersecretary Sharon S. Garin made the remarks at a House energy committee hearing on Tuesday, drawing support from legislators. The DoE’s proposals for amending EPIRA include an increase in the ERC’s power to fine regulated entities to P500 million from the current maximum of P50 million for violations of competition rules. Under the EPIRA, the ERC can levy a fine of between P50,000 and P50 million for entities found, after due notice and hearing, to have engaged in “any anti-competitive act including but not limited to cross-ownership, cross-subsidization, price or market manipulation or other unfair trade practices, taking into consideration its effect on the electric industry and its participants.”
The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, which saw an infusion of more than P500 billion since being privatized 14 years ago, has invested P300 billion in capital expenditures, particularly for improvements to its power transmission systems. In a statement sent to Philstar.com on Thursday, the NGCP responded to criticisms at the Senate energy committee hearing that the company allocated a larger portion of its income in four years for dividends to shareholders rather than spending it. Data from the grid operator showed that while it released 74% to 93% of its net income in dividends to investors in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019, the NGCP spent more in developing its own services since 2009. It was that year when private shareholders paid a concession fee of $4 billion (P224 billion in current exchange rates) to take over transmission operations from the government.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Thursday touted the House of Representatives' accomplishment of approving 31 out of 42 priority bills identified by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). The latest measures that have been passed were the 30-year National Infrastructure Program Bill and the proposed National Land Use Act. “We are proud of our collective accomplishment – 31 out of 42 and counting. As of today, we have achieved a significant part of our goal in less than a year of session,” Romuladez said in a statement.