Press Releases

Salceda renews call for fewer barriers to investment as US eyes “regional economic framework” for more investments in ASEAN

December 14th, 2021

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) has renewed calls for lowering the country’s barriers to foreign direct investment, including the economic restrictions in the Constitution, and the current Public Service Act, in response to the announcement by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, during his official visit to Southeast Asia this week, that the US is eyeing a new “regional economic framework” which would include more US foreign direct investment in the region.

“We have to adapt and compete for these investments. Right now, not all of our doors are already open. Our constitution is still severely restrictive towards foreign capital, and we still have a very narrow definition for ‘public services’ which is also highly restricted by the constitution,” Salceda said.

“The global powers are eyeing Southeast Asia as the world’s new growth engine. The US wants to forge closer ties with the region. China certainly wants to expand its horizons. Japan is already our closest trading partner, and has no choice but to invest in younger countries like us more, since their population is aging,” Salceda added.

“So, we have to open doors if we are serious about letting opportunities in,” Salceda said.

Salceda also said that the Philippines has “already made great strides, when it comes to opening up. The Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Foreign Investments Act amendments are already on President Duterte’s desk. The Public Service Act amendments are already on the Senate floor.”

Salceda is a principal author of all the bills mentioned.

“And of course, we are already reaping the benefits of CREATE, although we could do more by simply issuing the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan,” or the list of industries qualified for tax perks under CREATE. Salceda is also the principal author and sponsor of the measure.

“Secretary Blinken’s statement is a recognition of new geo-economic realities. Southeast Asia is now the world’s brightest economic constellation.”

“Of course, this will be a beauty contest. We will benefit from investments in our neighbors, but we are also competing with them. We cannot be the dimmest star in the region. We need to open up,” Salceda added.

“America and the global powers do not want to miss out on ASEAN. But of course, they can easily miss out on the Philippines – and we will miss them – if we are not even in consideration for investments because we don’t allow them.” (end)

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