New DTI head wants more foreign involvement in local trade

Philippine Daily Inquirer | by Amy R. Remo | 12:28 AM July 2nd, 2016

To reflect the bullish economic outlook trumpeted by President Duterte in his oath-taking Thursday, the new Trade chief is eyeing to open up more industries to foreign investments.

On the sidelines of the change in leadership ceremonies Friday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said he wanted to review the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) to allow more activities entailing foreign equity. The FINL is issued yearly via an executive fiat.

“We should trim the list as we need to open up more industries, which will benefit our country more and which can create quality jobs and quality income. That’s our vision. We will review certain industries to see if we can open these up and for as long as there’s no domestic production that may be affected,” Lopez said. He declined to cite specific industries, pending the completion of a review.

Lopez also disclosed the Department of Trade and Industry, together with the Department of Finance, would be studying the proposed rationalization of fiscal incentives currently offered to investors.

Lopez said incentives would be provided regardless of the size of the company and for as long as it was engaged in pioneering industries and innovative activities. He said the ultimate aim of these businesses should be for the creation of more jobs in and outside Metro Manila.

For example, perks would be given to big companies that have an inclusive business model, he said. This meant micro, small and medium sized enterprises were integrated or part of the company’s core operations and value chain, he added.

The inclusive business model was already included in the DTI’s Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). Details regarding the system of implementation and granting of incentives would still have to be finalized, he added.

“We will further review the industries under the IPP to see in which areas the country has a competitive advantage. I want to see more agri-based industries that produce high value added products,” Lopez said.

Lopez, the former executive director of entrepreneurship advocacy group Go Negosyo, has long been vocal of his thrust to prioritize the MSME agenda.