Creating a “level playing field”
EUROPE BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman) - September 24, 2015 - 10:00am

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is – as mentioned in previous columns – involved in advocacies to create a level playing field for local and foreign business. Today, I would like to highlight three areas:

First – A fair competition policy / legislation.

We at ECCP are happy to report that – after 25 years of ‘pushing’ – we finally achieved the passage of the Philippine Competition Act in Congress and participated in the signing of the Act into law by the President. We are fairly optimistic that gradual implementation of the law will lead to a changed competition environment in the Philippines, benefitting all companies and – most importantly – Juan dela Cruz who will get better products and services and a better price. We hope that the Philippine Competition Commission will be formed very soon; we understand that the first draft of the Implementing Rules and Regulations has been completed.

Second – To open the economic provisions of the constitution.

Despite the increase in Foreign Direct Investments to US$ 6.2 billion in 2014, it is obvious that the Philippines remains low in FDI in comparison with its Asian neighbours. This became obvious in the FDI numbers for this year: to date we are 50% lower than 2014! There is no doubt that the Philippines would be more attractive as a destination for foreign investors if the investment rules were less restrictive for foreign investors, both in terms of the provisions of the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) which was re-issued with minimal changes in June this year, and the limitations contained in the economic provisions of the Constitution. House Resolution No. 1, authored and pushed by Speaker Belmonte, was making progress in the House; but when the voting on HR1 was ready to go and Belmonte had the numbers, he decided not to execute the voting; it remains to be seen whether there will be a second opportunity in the 16th Congress or whether we will have to wait for the 17th Congress to move on this important measure which, had it successfully been voted upon, would have encouraged the foreign business community.

Third – we continue our advocacy against corruption

The Integrity Initiative – as a project managed by ECCP and the Makati Business Club and funded by Siemens AG, has come to an end earlier this year and is now succeeded by the Integrity Initiative Inc., a non-stock – non-profit organization, incorporated by 5 business organizations:

1. ECCP

2. MAKATI BUSINESS CLUB

3. MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

4. FINEX AND

5. AMCHAM.

ECCP will continue to play an important role both in the Board of Trustees and the Management of the Integrity Initiative Inc. While we all agree that much more needs to be done to fight corruption among the private sector and between the private sector and government, let me clearly say that we are all part of the solution; if we are not willing to be part of the solution, we are part of the problem!

schumacher@eccp.com

 

ACIRC BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND THE MANAGEMENT OF THE INTEGRITY INITIATIVE INC ECCP EUROPEAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS FOREIGN INVESTMENT NEGATIVE LIST HOUSE RESOLUTION NO IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS INTEGRITY INITIATIVE INTEGRITY INITIATIVE INC MAKATI BUSINESS CLUB
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