THE British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) said it is encouraging UK companies to invest in the Philippines following the easing of foreign ownership limits on industries like telecommunications and retail.

BCCP Executive Director Chris Nelson said in a statement on Wednesday that the chamber “actively continues to encourage more British companies to look at business and long-term opportunities in the country.”

“The Philippines has a high potential to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI); if it increases the openness of the economy further, the right business environment (will be) in place,” he said, adding that the chamber looks forward to “the promotion of fair competition in key industries.”

On March 21, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) No. 11659 which amended the 85-year-old Public Service Act (PSA). The amended law now allows foreigners to fully own companies in the telecommunications, airlines, railways, and shipping businesses. Previously, these sectors were subject to a 40% foreign ownership limit.

The amended PSA completes the program of three economic liberalization measures being promoted by the government in aid of the economic recovery.

Earlier, Mr. Duterte signed RA 11595, which amended the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), and RA 11647, which amended the Foreign Investments Act (FIA).

Under the amended FIA, foreigners are now allowed to invest 100% equity in domestic market enterprises and set up and own 100% of small and medium enterprises.

On the other hand, the amended RTLA lowered the required minimum paid-up capital of foreign retailers to P25 million from $2.5 million, while the minimum investment per store was lowered to P10 million.

The BCCP reiterated its call for the Philippines to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) treaty. The Philippines has yet to join RCEP with the Senate unable to sign on to the treaty before adjourning on Feb. 3 for the election break.

The RCEP trade agreement’s members are Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The trade deal starting coming into force on Jan. 1 in 11 countries.

“As the Philippines welcomes new leadership in May, the chamber wishes the next administration will pursue and maintain policies aimed at further enhancing the country’s investment landscape and make the (Philippines) the gateway to Southeast Asia,” the BCCP said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave