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Phl brandishes RCEP benefits to foreign investors, biz leaders

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“The Philippines is open for business”, this is the main message communicated by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual to the potential investors and attendees of the 17th J.P. Morgan Philippine Conference Macro Tour held on 29 March 2023 at the Philippine Board of Investments. 

The Macro Tour has enabled investors to have access to and engage in informative discussions with industry experts, corporate executives, government leaders, and other experts who provided them pertinent information regarding the current business climate in the Philippines and major developments in various industries that will help them assess the viability of their investments. 

Further, the event served as a platform for members of the Marcos Administration’s economic team to communicate the progress that the government has made in the previous months to achieve a more enabling policy environment for businesses. 

One of the enabling measures highlighted by Secretary Pascual during his keynote address was the recently-ratified Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP). 

“In our drive to further expand the country’s market reach, we have adopted a more proactive and deliberate approach toward free trade agreements. The recent ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement would make the country more competitive. When the agreement takes effect in about three month’s time, Philippine exporters gain a market of 15 countries and have the potential to expand by another USD27.8 billion,” he said. 

Secretary Pascual also boasted of the Board of Investment’s (BOI) approved investments as of February 9, 2023, which has reached PHP414 billion from BOI alone. The Department remains positive that the country is most likely to meet PhP1.5T investment target by the end of 2023 as more and more investments are being realized from the previous foreign trips of President Ferdinand Marcos. Jr. 

“We are primed to sustain our momentum and even accelerate the conversion of our investment leads, particularly in priority areas of digital transformation, sustainable development, health resilience, and food security,” added Secretary Pascual. 

Acknowledging the importance of further improving ease of doing business in the country to facilitate entry of more investments, Secretary Pascual also mentioned that the President has issued Executive Order No. 18 that will help establish green lanes to fast track the processing of licenses and permits for strategic investments. This move covers national government agencies (NGAs), local government units (LGUs), government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), and other government instrumentalities involved in the issuance of necessary licenses and permits. 

Amid the rising prices of commodities, Secretary Pascual also highlighted the DTI’s initiatives to address food inflation. 

“DTI’s task in agriculture starts at the farmgate. We streamline the supply chain until enough low-priced, high-quality food products directly reach consumers. We welcome more investments in cold storage facilities along this chain across all regions of the archipelago. More refrigerators and refrigerated vans mean our farmers will not be beholden to traders who drive down the buying price to non-viable levels,” Secretary Pascual said in closing. 

Addressing food inflation and establishing a direct link between farmers and consumers to avoid exorbitant prices of commodities remains a top priority of the DTI. The Department, through its attached agency, Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) also aims to facilitate the creation of cooperatives composed of small farm-holders to help scale up agricultural production and further empower farmers. 

Secretary Pascual invited potential investors and attendees of the Macro Tour to invest in the Philippines, especially within the government’s priority sectors such as Industrial, Manufacturing, and Transport (IMT), Technology, Media, and Telecommunication (TMT), Health and Life Sciences (HLS), and Modern Basic Needs and Resilient Economy (MBNRE). 

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