Restrictive policies ‘deter investors’

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THE Philippines’ restrictive foreign ownership policy remains a major issue for many foreign companies, including those in Spain who want to invest in the country, according to the Spanish ambassador to the Philippines.

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Ambassador Jorge Domecq, in a media briefing held at his residence in Makati City, said the Philippines should change some of its policies to attract foreign investments.

“We share the same concern as the other European Union [EU] countries, undoubtedly, that [foreign ownership policy]is an issue for many firms,” he said.

“I understand that it will require a law to enforce it but I think it will help encourage more Spanish investors down the road,” Domecq said.

The House of Representatives has started tackling a resolution that aims to amend certain restrictive economic provisions in the country’s 17-year-old charter. The measure specifically seeks to accelerate economic growth by removing restrictive economic provisions and offering foreign businesses a more conducive investment landscape.

The ambassador however noted that despite the country’s restrictive policies, Spanish firms continue to do business with the Philippines.

He said the first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project involving the contract for the Daang Hari tollway was awarded to a consortium that includes Spanish engineering company Getina.

There are 10 major Spanish companies present in the Philippines including CEAMSA, the second largest producer of carrageenan, a product derived from seaweeds and used for preserving food.

Domecq announced the visit to Manila of Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo on March 24.

According to the envoy, Garcia-Margallo will meet with President Benigno Aquino 3rd and other key officials and will sign eight agreements between the Philippines and Spain, including the 6th Joint Commission for Technical Cooperation that deals with governance and disaster risk reduction.

“We will also be helping and will continue to support the peace process both with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao and throughout the country,” Domecq said.

Other possible agreements that will be signed during Garcia-Margallo’s visit are pacts on combating transnational crime; a cooperation plan between the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain; memorandum of understanding on the Development and Promotion of Teaching Spanish Language and Culture between the Department of Science and Technology, Spain’s Ministry of Education and the Cervantes Institute and the Spanish Agency for international development cooperation; memorandum of agreement (MOU) between the National Statistics Office and the Consulate General of Spain in Manila and the MOU between the high council of chambers of commerce, industry and shipping of Spain and the Makati Business Club and the confederation of employers and industry of Spain.

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