Philippines 11th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List

This one slipped under my radar – I’d known it was coming but it was only pointed out to me last night that Philippines President Duterte had signed it into law on October 29th this year.

So what is the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) and why does it matter?

The Philippines is widely regarded as having one of the highest barriers to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in SE Asia – as a minor example you can refer back to my article about buying property in the Philippines as a foreigner which talks about some of the restrictions on land and property ownership. The FINL describes the restrictions on foreign investments and the practice of professions and describes those specific investment areas/activities where foreign-equity participation is limited. This might be for reasons of defense, public health risks, protection of local enterprise or Constitutional reasons. Every few years the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reviews the list and makes recommendations for Executive Order approval. The most recent review (the 11th) is President Duterte’s first and the amendments are very much in line with his desire to open up the Philippines to more FDI and encourage his “Build, Build, Build” campaign.

The full Executive Order is here but, in a nutshell, the new FINL will now allow up to 100 percent foreign participation in:

(1) Internet businesses, excluding “mass media”;

(2) Teaching at higher education levels provided the subject being taught is not a professional subject (i.e., included in a government board or bar examination);

(3) Training centers that are engaged in short-term high-level skills development that do not form part of the formal education system (under TESDA or CHED);

(4) Insurance adjustment companies, lending companies, financing companies and investment houses;

(5) Wellness centers.

Of particular interest to a lot of foreigners engaged in building and construction, the 11th FINL also eases restrictions from the previous 25% to 40% foreign participation in contracts for construction and repair of locally funded public works (except those that are foreign funded or assisted and required to undergo international competitive auction).

Now, if only the land ownership side of things can be freed up, I can start considering that beachfront property in Palawan that I’ve had my eye on.

If anyone is interested in knowing more about how to access markets in the Philippines, give me a yell.

 

Free WiFi Hotspots in the Philippines

Anyone who’s ever spent much time in the Philippines would be aware that local WiFi access can be somewhat “challenging” at times. Even the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry admits that it has among theslowest and expensive Internet access not only among the ASEAN member states but also globally” 

Nonetheless, progress is being made towards broadening access to locals and visitors with the progressive roll-out of Pipol Konek via the Philippines Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). Pipol Konek is a free public access facility with (currently) around 2000 live sites nationwide including ~700 in Manila NCR and ~130 in Cebu. The ultimate objective is to have 200,000 live sites by 2022.

The daily data limits certainly aren’t huge – 50Mb for instant access and up to 300Mb for registered users – but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Full details, including instructions and a live map of sites, are at the Pipol Konek website.

 

 

 

Latest Asian Development Bank Statistical Report

The ADB has just released its flagship statistical report for 2018. Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2018  presents the latest statistics on a comprehensive set of economic, financial, social, environmental, and SDG indicators for the 48 regional members of the ADB.

Driver-Only Car Ban on Manila’s EDSA

A heads up for commuters that the Manila’s Car Park From Hell – otherwise known as EDSA (Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare) – is currently undergoing a trial banning driver-only vehicles during peak hours.

The Metro Manila Council approved the ban on August 7th and ‘peak hours’ are defined as 7am – 10am & 6pm – 9pm (weekdays). A ‘dry run’ is currently underway with the full implementation expected on 23rd August.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty as to how the ban will be enforced but penalties of PHP1000 will be likely. Grab and other ride share drivers will still be able to enter EDSA to pick up but it must be from “the nearest” entry and, after drop-off, exit EDSA at “the first exit”.

 

 

 

A Quick Word About Safety in Manila

For some reason, I’ve had a lot of questions lately about personal safety in Manila and the Philippines more generally. Mainly from people who are considering visiting for holiday or work but have been ‘warned’ about safety, often by friends or relatives who last visited during the Marcos era.

The security situation in Manila especially is very much exaggerated – frankly, I feel safer walking around Manila at 2 in the morning than in my home town of Melbourne. Except for a number of war-torn provinces in Mindanao where the military have been clashing with Muslim extremists for decades, the Philippines is generally a very safe place to be and, petty crime aside, the risk of physical violence or danger is extremely low. The chances of falling victim to property or violent crime are minimal if you stay alert, are observant of your surroundings and don’t flaunt your valuables.

That said, there are a few specific points to be aware of: Continue reading “A Quick Word About Safety in Manila”

The Philippines’ top court hears arguments for legalisation of same sex marriage

This week, in an historic first, the Philippines Supreme Court is hearing arguments for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

In a move that’s surprising to some, President Duterte has expressed his in-principle support to same sex unions.