MANILA, Philippines — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has assured British businesses that the government is working to ease foreign investment restrictions through the 11th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL), which is now up for signing by President Duterte.
During the recent Philippine economic briefing held by economic managers in London, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia acknowledged that the Philippines has one of the most restrictive business environments when it comes to foreign investments.
“Compared with our neighbors, the Philippines seems to be the most restrictive in terms of foreign direct investments. We have many negative-listed investment areas and activities, meaning that there is a high restrictive wall on the participation of foreign investors,” Pernia told businessmen in the United Kingdom.
“We hope to boost foreign investments in the country by means of lifting or easing such restrictions,” he said.
Pernia said that not all areas can be adjusted by an executive order (EO) as some would require legislation and constitutional amendment.
The draft EO on the 11th FINL eases foreign restriction on the following areas and activities: private recruitment for local and overseas employment; practice of select professions; construction and repair of public works projects; culture, production, milling, processing and trading of rice and corn; teaching at higher education levels, and retail trade.
“For the first category, which can be adjusted by an executive order, we already have the proposed EO, which is now with the President for his signature,” Pernia said.
He also highlighted the country’s stable macroeconomic standing and potential as an investment destination.
That is to say the Philippine economy has been growing by an average of 6.4 percent in the last eight years, the strongest since the mid-1970s. For the first half, the economy grew by 6.3 percent.
Strengths as an investment destination include the now investment-driven nature of the economy, high total factor productivity which is now the best in ASEAN, and the resurgence in the manufacturing sector.
Pernia likewise emphasized that the government is focusing on connecting the country’s islands through aggressive infrastructure development.
“We are determined to close the infrastructure gap, create more jobs, and reduce inequality across regions and households,” he said.
Pernia, along with the rest of the economic team, also met separately with several UK companies like Vodafone and Shell for a comprehensive briefing on the Philippine economy and to discuss possible investment partnerships.