Thursday, February 11, 2016

Investors list key concerns for next president | Inquirer Business

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By: Amy R. Remo, February 10th, 2016 12:18 AM

FOREIGN investors have urged the presidential candidates to address in their platforms the fundamental concerns deemed critical to ensuring a highly conducive environment for trade and investments in the Philippines.

In a briefing by the Joint Foreign Chambers on Tuesday, Julian Payne, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said the candidates should declare whether or not they favored the easing of restrictions on foreign direct investments. There are different ways to go about this, according to Payne, including an amendment to the Philippine Constitution, the easing of the 10th Foreign Investment Negative List, or the relaxation of certain regulations to attract more foreign companies to invest here.

The second issue, according to Payne, would be the openness of the presidential candidate to international trade.

“We know that the Philippines has the options and the opportunities to join the TransPacific Partnership Agreement and other European trade arrangements and it’s a very interesting question: What is the view of each of the candidates on this issue of opening up the country to more international trade in this day of globalization. It’s not just a matter of signing the agreements, but also reducing a vast array of protectionist non-tariff issues,” Payne explained.

“The third fundamental question is the issue of ease of doing business. This ranges from bureaucracy to lack of clarity [in regulations], among others. It will be very interesting to see what are the position of each each candidate to really ease doing business here in the country not only for foreigners but Filipino investors too,” Payne added.

Ebb Hinchliffe, executive director at the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, cited the need for the presidential candidates to lay down a platform that could go beyond their six-year term as doing so would ensure a sustainable, inclusive growth for the country.

Henry J. Schumacher, vice president for external affairs at the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., noted that among the important issues that must be addressed was infrastructure, stressing that without infrastructure, there would be no economic growth.

“There has to be focus on how to make infrastructure going. Second is the Competition Law as it is important to see how the interpretation [of this law] is going to be and how the commission is going to see how the level playing field is going to be there, and hopefully that the new administration will support this. High on our agenda is inclusive growth and I think we still like to see manufacturing be addressed more deeply and that requires to get the new administration to accept that job generation is important. The other area is agriculture. We believe that inclusive growth and job generation are hinged on those two areas,” Schumacher explained.

The Joint Foreign Chambers is hoping that the presidential candidates would accept their invitation to be part of the Arangkada Philippines Forum, where they could present before the foreign and local business community their “bold reforms” and respective platforms for accelerating an inclusive economic growth.

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