Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines backs 4 bills easing foreign equity curbs

November 13, 2018

The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) welcomed the promulgation of the 11th Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) through Executive Order 65, but urged Congress to pass at least four reform measures to ease foreign ownership restrictions in the country.

In a statement Monday, JFC said the Philippines will remain the most restrictive country based on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Restrictiveness Index, unless foreign ownership restrictions are further relaxed.

In OECD FDI Restrictive Index 2017, it rated the Philippines as the most restrictive country out of 67 nations.

“[W]e expect only modest gains in foreign direct investment to result from the changes made in the new FINL,” JFC said.

“Meaningful reforms in the FINL require Congress to pass relevant laws, including amendments to the restrictions on foreign ownership in the Philippine Constitution,” the foreign groups added.

The JFC cited four reform measures that they want the 17th Congress to prioritize within the next few months before the campaign period for the mid-term election starts. These include: Open Access in Data Transmission Act as well as amendments in Public Service Act, Foreign Investment Act, and Retail Trade Act.

Foreign business groups are also hoping that legislature will implement the Memorandum Order 16 inked by President Rodrigo Duterte last year.

The Memorandum Order instructed the executive branch “to exert utmost efforts to lift or ease restrictions on certain investment areas or activities with limited foreign participation”.

“We look forward to MO 16 being implemented not only by the Executive Branch but also by Congress. There have already been hearings in the Senate to understand better the contents of the FINL and what legal reforms are needed to update laws that serve no real purpose in the 21st century yet restrict foreign investment, job creation, and technology transfer into the economy,” the JFC said.

JFC is composed of foreign chambers here of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Korea, and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc.