by Louella Desiderio – The Philippine Star, 24 Dec 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) has highlighted the need for an effective vaccine rollout and passage into law of key reforms that would encourage greater foreign investments in the country as part of its wish list to allow the economy to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.
In a statement, ECCP president Lars Wittig emphasized the importance of vaccine administration and improvements in the health care system for economic recovery.
“An accelerated vaccination deployment and significantly decreased mobility restrictions could contribute to a better fourth-quarter performance in 2021 and recovery in 2022,” he said.
Implementation of policies that aim to encourage more investors to do business in the country is also seen to bring economic gains for the country.
Among the measures being pushed by the ECCP are amendments to the Foreign Investments Act (FIA), Public Service Act (PSA) and Retail Trade Liberalization (RTL) Act.
The proposed amendments to the FIA, which seek to ease restrictions on foreign businesses, have been ratified by the House of Representatives and the Senate and would be submitted to the Office of the President.
Amendments to the PSA, which seek to allow greater foreign investment in the telecommunications and transportation sectors, meanwhile, have been approved on third and final reading recently at the Senate and would be reconciled with the House of Representatives’ version before being sent to the President for approval.
The RTL amendments, which aim to encourage greater foreign investments in the retail sector through the lowering of the required paid-up capital, are expected to be adopted soon.
Wittig said allowing greater foreign investor participation in the Philippines would help encourage more European businesses engaged in energy, water, waste management, smart infrastructure, and mobility to tap opportunities in the country.
“With these measures, we can create more jobs and drive growth.” Wittig said.
Of the $313 million foreign direct investment stock from the European Union to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2019, the Philippines accounted for only 4.6 percent.
With elections next year, Wittig said the ECCP intends to work with the new administration for recovery efforts.
“We stand ready to collaborate with the next administration to accelerate recovery and progress, as well as to shape a more inclusive and sustainable growth narrative for the Philippines through increased trade and investment, improved competitiveness and ease of doing business, continued pandemic response, and restoring consumer confidence,” he said.
With close to 800 members, ECCP seeks to promote a more competitive environment for European-Philippine trade and investments.