Duterte seeks 'immediate steps' to ease foreign investment limits


Posted at Nov 23 2017 01:59 PM | Updated as of Nov 23 2017 02:39 PM

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) gestures to US President Donald J. Trump (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines, 13 November 2017. Mark R. Cristino/Pool/Reuters, FILE PHOTO

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the National Economic Development Authority to take "immediate steps" to lift or ease restrictions on foreign investments, according to an official document released by his office on Thursday.

The President issued the memorandum dated Nov. 21 one week after the country hosted Asia-Pacific leaders including US President Donald Trump and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

The NEDA's efforts to ease restrictions should include labor recruitment, public services, rice and corn production, milling, processing, and trading, teaching at higher education levels, retail and domestic market enterprises, according to the order.

The order aims to "raise the Philippines' level of competitiveness and to foster higher economic growth," the document read.

Duterte also directed the NEDA to "earnestly support" efforts in Congress to ease restrictions that will require legislation, it read.

Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Ernesto Pernia said last week foreign direct investments were up "quite sharply" in September and a new "negative list" of industries where restrictions will be eased has been submitted to the President for approval.

The Constitution caps foreign ownership in key business at 40 percent. Foreign chambers have urged the government to raise the ceiling to lure more investors.

The Philippine economy grew 6.9 percent in the July to September period, making it Asia's second fastest-growing economy after Vietnam.