Press Release
January 6, 2016


With regional trade barriers going down, the Philippines has to strengthen its governing bodies and streamline the permitting process if it is to attract more foreign investments in 2016, independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe said.

"To become the next investment magnet in the ASEAN region, we must take the necessary steps to create an economy that is more welcoming to foreign partnerships," Poe said. "This will boost the economy, create more jobs and build a stronger business ecosystem."

Poe noted that while the Philippines has come a long way in terms of attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), the message that the country is open for business is somehow not getting across to a bigger market.

In 2014, the Philippines reported $6.2 billion in FDIs, a 66-percent increase from the $3.7 billion investments in 2013 but still a fraction of what neighboring countries in the region get. Vietnam and Thailand, for example, attract around $12 billion in FDIs annually while Indonesia gets $18 billion.

"The biggest deterrent to foreign investors is the weakness of our basic governing institutions. Policy-making is politicized, business permits take ages to procure, and contracts are not secure. What message do these conditions send to foreign investors? The business climate certainly does not look very welcoming," Poe said.

The senator proposes opening the market and starting the discussion on the amendment of economic provisions in the Constitution. The lifting of restrictive provisions can be done in phases so that local industries can also adjust and become competitive, she said.

She also said it is time to clean up the Foreign Investment Negative List under the Foreign Investments Act, which limits the extent of foreign equity participation in the country.

"The country has to start taking steps forward in order to compete in the global space, which is becoming more integrated and borderless. We can't miss out on the benefits being enjoyed by citizens of other economies. Of course, safety nets for local industries must be put in place," Poe noted.

If she wins the presidency, Poe said she will encourage foreign companies to list their shares in the Philippine Stock Exchange so that Filipinos can also invest and get to own a slice of these foreign companies.

She will also simplify doing business in the country, including faster and less costly government processes.

"President Aquino put us on the path to institutional reform. But we will only know we have succeeded once we begin attracting the levels of foreign investment that our neighbors do," Poe said.

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