Foreign groups renew lobby on key economic measures (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign business groups have renewed calls for the approval of two House Bills that are seen to encourage the entry of more foreign investments into the country.

In a statement issued Monday, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) urged the legislative branch to immediately approve Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) Liberalization Act and the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act (FIA).

“These bills are under technical working group deliberation by the Senate Economic Affairs Committee and remain pending in House Trade Committee. The JFC sent a letter to Senate President Drilon to recommend passage of both bills considering the very limited time left in the 16th Congress. Another letter was also sent to House trade chair Rep. Mark Villar to request for hearing on the bills,” the business groups said.

The JFC said the FINL Liberalization Act is included in President Aquino’s priority legislative measures as of July this year.

The groups said the bill is intended to remove restrictions on adjustment companies, lending companies, financing companies and investment houses in the FINL under a single reform measure.

“The proposed law is consistent with banking and financial sector reforms undertaken in the 15th and 16th Congresses to relax or remove restrictions on foreign equity. It would facilitate entry of new investments through foreign equity and trade liberalization,” the JFC said.

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The amendments to the FIA, meanwhile, seek to remove the practice of professions in the FINL and lower the minimum paid-in capital for foreign equity and reduce the foreign investment employment requirement.

Foreign direct investment inflows to the country fell 41.9 percent to $1.64 billion from January to May this year compared to $2.82 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The JFC is a coalition composed of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese and Korean Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines as well as the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters.

The groups combined represent over 3,000 member companies engaged in over $230 billion worth of trade and some $30 billion worth of investments in the Philippines.

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