New list of investment areas off-limits to foreigners now on Duterte’s desk

Chrisee Dela Paz
New list of investment areas off-limits to foreigners now on Duterte’s desk
This list – shortened compared to the previous one – is seen to boost foreign direct investments flowing into the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – A new and shortened list of investment areas or activities that are off-limits to foreigners is already on President Rodrigo Duterte’s desk for review.

A National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) official expects the list to be approved after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit wraps up here in Manila.

Activities for the 31st ASEAN Summit will run from November 10 to November 14.

NEDA Undersecretary for Planning and Policy Rosemarie Edillon told reporters on Tuesday, November 7, that her office submitted the proposed foreign investment negative list (FINL) to the President “a month ago.”

“Right now, the preoccupation is the ASEAN, so most likely after this, then we can have some normalcy in the schedule not just of the President but also of the Cabinet members; so hopefully, [it will be signed] after that (ASEAN Summit),” Edillon said on the sidelines of a media briefing in Pasig City.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia had said the Philippines would allow more investment areas where foreigners can fully own a company.

Although Pernia declined to enumerate the areas where 100% foreign ownership would be allowed, he said those that are being looked into are “retail, trade, professions, public utilities, and contractors.”

Back in October, Pernia also disclosed plans of lowering the required minimum capital for foreign retail investors who want to put up a store in the country to $200,000, from $2.5 million, in an effort to liberalize the sector and push local players to be at par with their ASEAN neighbors. (READ: Business confidence in PH plunges to 3-year low)

With the local research industry open to foreigners, Edillon said the Philippines stands to gain from the exchange of expertise and experience in various sectors.

“For instance, if you want to do back-office accounting procedures for a European company, you should have an idea of the European practice or standards,” the NEDA official said.

Former president Benigno Aquino III in 2015 issued Executive Order No. 184, or the 10th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List, which mainly kept intact the foreign ownership restrictions in the previous list. The government is mandated to release a new list every two years.

According to Pernia, the new and shortened FINL is seen to boost foreign direct investments (FDIs) flowing into the Philippines.

Last July, the net inflow of FDIs into the country reached $307 million, based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). This is the country’s lowest monthly level since it hit $238 million in FDIs in June 2016–

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