Palace directs NEDA board, member agencies to ease foreign restrictions

​MANILA, Philippines —  Malacañang directed the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board and its member agencies to “exert utmost efforts” in easing or lifting restrictions on the government’s investment activities that have limited foreign participation.

In a bid to raise the Philippines’ level of competitiveness, the Palace on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 issued Memorandum Order​ No. 16, ordering the concerned agencies to take immediate steps to lift or ease existing restrictions on foreign participation in eight investment areas.

These areas include private recruitment for local and overseas employments; practice of particular professions, where allowing foreign participation will redound to the public benefit; contracts for the construction and repair of locally-funded public works; teaching at higher education levels; retail trade enterprises; and domestic market enterprises.

The memorandum order​ also covers public services, except activities and systems recognized as public utilities such as transmission and distribution of electricity, water, pipeline distribution system, and sewerage pipeline system.

It likewise calls for the easing of government restriction for culture, production, milling, processing, and trading except retailing, of rice and corn and acquiring by barter, purchase or otherwise, rice, corn, and other by-products.

Apart from promoting the country’s competitiveness, the order seeks to foster higher economic growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and beyond through joint endeavors and partnerships with other countries.

Members of the NEDA Board are called to support legislative efforts that may be necessary to eliminate the said restrictions, including a pending legislation seeking to clarify the definition of public utilities.

The NEDA Board is likewise directed to immediately advise the President regarding restrictions on foreign participation, which may already be lifted or eased without the need of legislation.

This move aims to amend the Tenth Regular Foreign Investment Negative List under Executive Order (EO) No. 184 issued in 2015, in accordance with the objectives of the order.

The foreign investment negative list (FINL) was formulated by virtue of Republic Act (RA) No. 7042, also known as the “Foreign Investments Act of 1991,” which provides for the formulation of a Regular FINL covering investment areas/activities open to foreign investors and/or reserved to Filipino nationals.

The list also indicates the extent of foreign equity participation in specific investment activities.-PCO/PR