Joint Foreign Chambers urges government to pursue trade deals with EU, US
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Government must continue negotiations with the European Union (EU) and start talks with the US for trade deals, as well as pass some legislative measures to attract more foreign investments, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) said.

In a statement, JFC said the Philippines is being recognized by foreign multinational firms, as well as smaller foreign companies, as a country on its way to realizing its high potential to be among the top tier economies globally.

“The prospects are high that, with continued political and economic stability, foreign direct investments (FDI) will be above $10 billion in 2019,” the JFC said.

After FDIs in the country hit a record high $10 billion in 2017, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas expects FDIs to have reached $10.4 billion last year.

As of end-September, FDIs rose 24.2 percent year-on-year to reach $8.04 billion.

JFC said the Philippines is just beginning to catch up with other Southeast Asian economies.

“The Philippine economy has yet to run on all cylinders. If and when it does, we expect it will grow at even higher growth rates – even double digit – and can create millions of better jobs that will give Filipinos an option to working abroad,” it said.

It said it expects the creative, infrastructure, manufacturing, and tourism sectors to grow this year.

In manufacturing, the country has opportunities to attract investments given rising costs in China and the US-China trade war.

To attract more FDIs, the JFC said the country should expand its access to foreign markets by continuing its negotiations with the EU and by initiating talks to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as for a trade and investment agreement with the US.

The JFC also reiterated its call to Congress to pass measures to help encourage new investors to come to the Philippines.

“We urge the Congress to pass reforms that will lead to many tens of billions of additional foreign investment, better technology and jobs, and more competition, including amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Open Access in Data Transmission bill, Public Services Act, Retail Trade Act, constitutional restrictions on foreign investment, and to revisit Comprehensive Tax Reform (TRAIN – Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion 2) in a manner not to discourage export-oriented investors,” JFC said.

It said it is hopeful the country would reverse the decline in its competitiveness rankings such as in World Bank’s Doing Business, the E-Government Readiness Survey, and the World Competitiveness Yearbook.

JFC also said it is important for Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act which seeks to eliminate red tape, to be implemented.

“Overall, we are hopeful that with continued politico-economic and regulatory stability, 2019 will be a year of more high growth, tempering inflation, and high FDI for the Philippines. We invite foreign firms that have not located in the country to come, take a look, and join us,” JFC said.

JFC is composed of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, and Korean chambers, and Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, representing over 3,000 member companies engaged in over $100 billion worth of trade in goods and services and some $30 billion in investment in the country.

EUROPEAN UNION FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS JOINT FOREIGN CHAMBERS
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