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Eleven priority sectors listed by EU business organizations are expected to increase FDI.

The Philippine government has received advocacy papers on 11 priority sectors from the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the European Union-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) to increase foreign investment.

The business groups said the advocacy papers focused on the industries of agriculture, automotive, customs and logistics, environment and water, food and beverage, healthcare, human capital and education, infrastructure and aviation, renewable energy and energy efficiency, tax and financial services, and tourism during the 10th European-Philippine Business Dialogue on Thursday in Makati City.

ECCP executive director Florian Gottein said, “We are hopeful that these advocacy papers will serve as a useful tool for stakeholders to identify areas of cooperation and improved economic outcomes.”

The Anti-Red Tape Authority’s Deputy Director General Gerald Divinagracia, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., Finance Undersecretary Zeno Ronald Abenoja, Trade Undersecretary Maria Blanca Kim Lokin, and Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin all accepted the advocacy documents.

“Over the years, industry stakeholders and the government have made great efforts to promote the Philippines as a wise investment choice in the face of challenges. ECCP president Lars Wittig states, “We are optimistic that the strengthening of economic reforms and the recent creation of green lanes for strategic investments will be essential in further opening the country’s doors for expanded trade and high-value investments.

The agriculture sector’s ideas include further liberalizing the rice and corn industries to promote food security and alleviate the current high food inflation.

“We again urge lawmakers to evaluate and change regulations restricting foreign participation in specific agricultural sectors. According to the advocacy paper on agriculture, a law passed in 1960 forbids foreigners from cultivating, milling, warehousing, transporting, exporting, importing, distributing, or purchasing for trade severely restricts foreign participation in the rice and corn industries.

The European business associations asked the Marcos government to create the Water Resources Department to manage the water industry, stressing that doing so would boost funding for initiatives and programs dealing with water and sanitation.

Gottein stated earlier this week that the ECCP and the EU-ABC had previously advocated for the passage of changes to the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, as well as the ability for renewable energy (RE) projects to have 100 percent foreign ownership.

He claimed that the suggested modifications will assist the Philippines in luring more FDIs worldwide and from Europe.

Wittig remarked, “with all these positive developments, I say with strong conviction β€” the time for increased trade and investments is now.”

“Now is the best time to invest in the Philippines, period. The official said it is our responsibility to promote the Philippines as an investment location and bring attention to the country.

Additionally, the advocacy papers call for the Philippines and the EU to resume talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) and support the extension of the EU Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

“The current EU-Philippines economic landscape prompts the need for the retention of the GSP+ grant in the Philippines and underscores the urgency of fast-tracking the EU-PH FTA negotiations,” said the document.

The highest utilization rate since the nation began taking advantage of the advantageous tariffs offered by the EU, according to Lokin, was 76 percent in 2021.

2023 is predicted to be GSP+’s final year.

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