EU hopes 60-40 cap on Philippine ownership to be lifted as Congress talks on Cha-cha; investors' confidence affected by govt policies, not Duterte's rhetorics
The European Union said on Thursday the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership has holding back European businessmen to invest in the Philippines.
This as the investors from Europe look more on the government's policies than on the rhetorics of President Rodrigo Duterte in their business decisions, said EU Delegation Head Franz Jessen in a press conference with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) in Makati City.
"In terms of how these different statements have affected the sentiment in Europe and for investors, I think investors they properly look at the very broad numbers of issues. So I think at the end of the day, the issue is more what policies have been followed by the government," he said.
Jessen added he would be "very keen to see progress on the free trade agreement because it would consolidate the trade relationship in a new way, in a better way that we have right now."
Duterte, in his previous speeches, had slammed EU for its concern over the extrajudicial killings and issue on rule of law in the Philippines amid its bloody war on drugs.
Recently, Jessen admitted that the Philippines rejected the 6.1 million euro Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) last year.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has said the deal was not signed by the Philippines due to the issue on language of the contract, such as sovereignty and interference.
Duterte has said his government would reject assistance with conditions.
During the press conference, Jessen was asked about the Philippine rejection of EU aid, but he was evasive, saying it would be discussed in other media briefing.
Meanwhile, as Congress pushes for constitutional amendments, Jessen expressed hope the government would lift the foreign ownership restriction.
"I think 60-40 ownership is something that is holding some investments back and it is something that we're looking at FTA negotiations...it is something in my view that slows down European investments in the Philippines and see if that could be lifted," he explained.
Under the Philippine Constitution, foreigners are allowed only up to 40 percent ownership, specifically on public utilities. But there are certain areas, which are further liberalized.
Jessen expressed belief that the Philippines should further open up to foreigners "across sectors," specifically in manufacturing. Celerina Monte/DMS