UK trade envoy hopes for resolution of Malampaya tax issue

Published February 18, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The British government has expressed hope that the taxation issue on the Malampaya gasfield now pending with the Supreme Court could be resolved soon.

In a roundtable with the media, Richard Graham, UK Prime Ministers Trade Envoy to the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and the ASEAN Economic Community, said they have touched on the issue of taxation during his meeting with Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

“I am not anticipating any changes but I think a reassurance to the business community would be always welcome. We have historical issue of taxation on Malampaya gasfield which am cautiously optimistic to be resolved very soon. I think the SC is handling that particular issue at the moment,” he said.

The Malampaya gasfield was developed and currently operated by Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), under the Royal Dutch Shell, with joint venture partners – Chevron Malampaya LLC and Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corporation.

On the CITIRA Bill, which seeks to reform the tax perks to investors in lieu of lower corporate income tax, he said it was among the issues he discussed with Lopez.

As British firms like BPO and some manufacturing firms are doing business in the Philippines and the possibility if investors from China expanding in the country, the UK Prime Minister’s envoy said, “Just make sure that tax rules are transparent, clear and favorable.”

Graham, who is on his fifth visit to the Philippines, said that it is “business as usual” with the Philippines following its exit from the EU bloc.
While UK has prioritized forging bilateral free trade agreement with the US and other countries, he said that the Philippines, in its own right, is important to UK government.

According to Graham, Britain is maintaining the EU-GSP Plus trade relations with the Philippines up to the end of this year after which it will be rebranded under UK GSP Plus so it will be “business as usual.”

In the meantime, Graham said that because of the complementaries of both countries, UK may open up to some agricultural products from the Philippines that EU did not include in the GSP scheme to protect its own market. For its part, it will continue to export aero space, other high tech products and other consumer products to the Philippines.

“The potential for FTA is quite strong in the future but we have to deal with US first,” he said. Bilateral trade with the Philippines has grown 20 percent.
He cited high optimistic in the Philippines because of its very solid business environment. The UK has also regained its investor confidence after the holding of general elections that could encourage to invest more in the Philippines.

Graham, who used to live in the country and can speak the local language, also visited Safeguard NDA Diagnostics, a 50-50 British-Philippine joint venture engaged in a biomedical laboratory for the screening of pathogens. Once launch in April this year, the company will provide its services to government hospitals and later with the private sector.