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Nov 24, 2017 @ 14:58

Selling out? Duterte is opening up PH to foreign utility firms, agri giants, retailers, teachers and other skilled workers


President Rodrigo Duterte is rushing the lifting of constitutional restrictions on foreign investment and labor to complement his aggressive push to bring in loans and investments from China, Japan and other countries.

The President issued Memorandum Order 16 directing the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to “exert utmost efforts to lift or ease restrictions on certain investment areas or activities with foreign participation.”

He also asked the NEDA Board to advise him on foreign investment restrictions that could be lifted without going through Congress.

Duterte’s Nov. 21 cited two major areas for equity cap liberalization – foreign investments (specifically public utilities and agriculture) and foreign labor.

Duterte listed four major investment sectors that he wanted to liberalized:

  • Public services, except activities and systems that are recognized as public utilities such as transmission and distribution of electricity, water pipeline distribution system, and sewerage pipeline system
  • Culture, production, milling, process, and trading except retailing, of rice and corn and acquiring by barter, purchase or otherwise, rice and corn and the by-products thereof
  • Retail trade enterprises
  • Domestic market enterprises
Duterte had recently announced his decision to award a Chinese player with the right to enter the mobile phone market as a third player to break up the PLDT-Smart and Globe duopoly.

Duterte also moved to open up the labor market to aliens:

  • Practice of particular professions, where allowing foreign participation will redound to the public benefit
  • Teaching at higher education levels
  • Private recruitment, whether for local or overseas employment
  • Contracts for the construction and repair of locally-funded public works

Duterte is embarking on a massive infrastructure spending program up to 2022 which would entail the hiring of engineers and other skilled workers from China and Japan that would provide the loans for these projects. 

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