Restrictive investment laws to jeopardize PH bid in CPTPP –

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Advocacy group Foundation for Economic Freedom warned over the weekend that keeping the telecommunications and transportation industry closed to foreign investments will affect the country’s prospective membership to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The FEF said in a statement that liberalizing more sectors of the economy will make the country more competitive in attracting foreign investment and enable it to take advantage of global opportunities.

“We support the initiative of our economic managers to further open up other sectors of the economy and not discriminate against foreign investors, which is a pre-condition to membership in the CPTTP,” it said.

“The Philippines should not miss is membership in the CPTPP, which is expected to be one of the largest free trade blocs in the world,” the group said.

The CPTTP has 11 Pacific Rim nation-members, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

FEF said several countries have also shown interest to join the trading bloc, including the United Kingdom, China and Taiwan all of which have recently formally applied to become members.

It is also expected that the United States, which organized the Trans-Pacific Partnership under former President Obama but withdrew under former President Trump, will seek to rejoin the trading bloc in 2022.

“Being a member of the CPTTP is a path towards economic recovery. It will greatly benefit our manufacturing sector, particularly the export sector, and open doors for our MSMEs. It will allow our business sector to participate in global production networks and maximize trade opportunities,” FEF said.

The FEF said the amendments to the Public Service Act is being derailed by the insistence of some senators to keep certain public services closed to greater foreign investments, like the telecommunications and transportation industry.

“This move will maintain the status quo and thwart the intention of the bill to liberalize the economy. It will also inhibit our ability to meet the requirements to join the CPTTP, whose intention is to remove the barriers to free trade among its members,” it said.

“Hence, we urge our Senators to consider the ability of the country to fully participate in the global economy. Delaying the necessary reforms to facilitate our membership in the CPTTP could result in further wasted opportunities and the see us once again lagging our neighbors in our quest for economic recovery and sustainability,” the FEF said.

FEF urged lawmakers to act with the urgency and enact crucial reforms needed by the economy.

Its advisory board includes prominent business leaders, namely Cesar E.A. Virata, Gerardo Sicat, Raul Fabella and Thomas Allen.

FEF officers includes Roberto de Ocampo, chairman, Romeo Bernardo, vice chairman, Simon Paterno, vice chairman, Calixto Chikiamco, president, Eduardo Gana, treasurer and Ricardo Balatbat III, corporate secretary.

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