Philippines: Govt to pursue amendments to open economy

  • THE GOVERNMENT will immediately pursue amendments to current laws to further open them up to foreign participation after “marginal improvements” were realized in the latest Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL).
  • Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said that the 11th FINL — the Duterte administration’s first — contained only “marginal improvements” and “baby steps” in further increasing foreign ownership in Philippine industries.
  • Mr. Pernia said that the government will no longer wait for the required two-year period before the next FINL to ease more foreign ownership restrictions, and has put in motion moves to amend special laws.
  • He cited pending bills in Congress such as the House-approved Bill No. 5828, or amendments to the Public Service Act, seeking to redefine public utilities and take out telecommunications from the industries restricted to foreign ownership; and several bills in both chambers of Congress lowering the paid-up capital threshold for the retail trade to USD200,000 from the current USD2.5mn under Republic Act No. 8762, or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000.
  • Foreign business chambers have welcomed the more liberal FINL, but said that more needs to be done. Mr. Pernia said that the FINL’s effects on foreign direct investment may start to be felt by 2019.

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