PRRD asked to certify 3 economic bills as ‘urgent’

Published March 25, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

After the passage of the CREATE Bill, the government’s economic managers have endorsed to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD)  for certification as urgent three economic bills pending in Congress with target passage by October this year or just before the political season starts for next year’s presidential election.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said at the “Make it Happen in the Philippines: A Forum on the Philippines’ Role in your Global Business” that the economic cluster of the Cabinet has endorsed the remaining three economic bills — amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Foreign Investments Act, and the Public Service Act. 

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez. (ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO FILE PHOTO)

“Hopefully, we can get that approval by the President so that all these  can be certified urgent,” Lopez said at the forum for DTI’s Europe Investments Promo Roadshow aimed to update EU businesses and investors of opportunities in the Philippines even during this time of adversities. 

Once certified by the President for immediate passage, Lopez expects the amended bills to pass Congress by October this year or just before the start of the political season. 

The three bills are expected to further open the domestic economy to foreign investments with lower the capital requirements for foreign retailers, majority foreign ownership in certain restricted industries, and more foreign competition in the domestic market. 

Meantime, the CREATE Bill is already waiting for the President’s signature or it will lapse into law by March 27, this Saturday. 

Lopez also told the European businessmen at the virtual event that the Philippines considers Europe an important trading partner and investment source in areas such as electronics, aerospace, IT-BPM, and agriculture and agro-processing. 

In 2020, Europe ranked as the Philippines’ 5th largest trading bloc, with total bilateral trade valued at $13.8 billion. The region also ranked as Philippines 6th export market valued at $7.28 billion and 6th top import supplier valued at $6.55 billion. 

The Philippines also enjoys a special trade relationship with Europe. For one, we have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Free Trade Association (or EFTA). In addition, the Philippines is the only country in the ASEAN to benefit from the European Union’s (EU) Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (or GSP+). But despite this relationship between the Philippines and Europe, there is still much room for growth, considering the level of consumer demand from respective markets and the supply chains that can be developed from complementary industries. 

In 2020, total approved European investments to the Philippines amounted to €406.55 million or $485.77 million, accounting for 20 percent of total investments. The top three investing countries from the region are UK, Netherlands, and France. Meanwhile, key European companies that have established operations in the Philippines include Dyson, Lufthansa Technik, Shell, Nestle, among others. 

“But beyond the figures, the nature and quality of investments from European companies and business partnerships formed with our companies have helped move the Philippines up the value chain,” said Lopez as he cited EU’s innovation-based manufacturing and high value technology-based services projects in the country. For example, Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP) is the Philippines’ preeminent provider of MRO services. A joint venture between MacroAsia Corporation and Hamburg-based Lufthansa Technik AG, this company has its main hub in Manila plus nine hangars, with a tenth under construction. 

 
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