Local retailers ready to compete

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Filipino retailers shouldn’t be overly concerned about the government’s plans to liberalize the industry given an inherent advantage, a senior SM Investments Corp. executive said.

“It is okay. One [advantage]is that we know what the Filipino consumer wants. So it’s okay. If you can’t beat them, join them,” SM Investments Vice Chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson told reporters on Friday.

She acknowledged that foreign retailers could not just enter Philippine market, a situation the government wants to change via amendments to the country’s Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL).

“It’s not easy for them to come on their own, they have to partner somehow or at least have some Filipinos as part of their team so I guess at this point with all the digital economy, we should encourage them,” she said.

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Socioeconomic Planning secretary Ernesto Pernia has said that a new FINL, expected to be released before the end of the year, would reduce the minimum paid-up capital requirement for foreign retailers to $200,000 from $2.5 million.

Sy said the $200,000 may be a bit low and added that the government should also undertake measures that would make it easier for Filipinos to put up their own businesses.

“I think it is a bit small … I guess for the bigger ones like us, we always think that if you can’t beat them, join them,” said.

“Let’s make it easier for Filipino people to enter business, then it will be good for us. I think we just have to make the business process with the regulators much easier. That will help a lot of businesses,” she added.

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