Foreign Business Supports Amending Charter Economic Provisions but Cautious of Political Implications

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MANILA, Philippines: The Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines has expressed its support for the proposed amendments to the “restrictive” economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution. However, the ongoing debate on Charter change (Cha-cha) has raised concerns among some members of the JFC.

Led by Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, discussions on Resolution of Both Houses 6 to amend certain economic provisions in the Charter have continued.

The JFC is a coalition consisting of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, and Korean chambers of commerce in the Philippines, as well as the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Headquarters Inc. With over 3,000 member-companies engaged in trade and investment, the JFC represents a significant voice in the business community.

Julian Payne, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, represented the JFC in the RBH 6 hearing, along with Florian Gottein, Executive Director of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

In his statement, Payne emphasized the JFC’s support for the liberalization of foreign direct investments (FDIs) wherever possible. He stated, “We believe that removing economic restrictions would facilitate an increase in FDI in sectors where such investment is currently restricted.”

Gottein echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that the decision to amend the Constitution is solely a Filipino matter. He stated, “If the Filipino people decide to amend the Constitution, we would be in favor of removing the economic restrictions from it.”

During the hearing, Sen. Mary Grace Poe sought the JFC representatives’ perspective on the concerns raised by their members regarding the ongoing Cha-cha debate. Gottein acknowledged that some JFC members had expressed uncertainty amidst the news and political discussions surrounding the matter. He stated, “We have received calls from some of our members regarding how this might unfold or which direction it could move further. So, yes, there is some uncertainty out there.”

The JFC’s support for the amendment of economic provisions in the Constitution reflects the belief that such changes would create a more favorable environment for foreign direct investments. By removing existing restrictions, the JFC believes that sectors currently limited by these provisions would experience increased investment opportunities.

It is important to note that the JFC respects the sovereignty of the Filipino people in deciding whether or not to amend the Constitution. They view this as an internal matter that should be determined by the citizens of the Philippines.

The ongoing debate surrounding Charter change has generated some concerns within the JFC. The uncertainty surrounding the direction and outcome of the Cha-cha debate has led to apprehension among certain members. However, the JFC remains committed to engaging in constructive dialogue and supporting initiatives that promote a more open and conducive business environment in the Philippines.

As discussions on Resolution of Both Houses 6 continue, it is crucial for all stakeholders to consider the potential impact of amending the economic provisions in the Constitution. Balancing the need for economic growth and attracting foreign investments with the preservation of national interests is a delicate task that requires careful consideration and collaboration.

The JFC’s support for the easing of economic restrictions demonstrates their commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment in the Philippines. By advocating for changes that encourage foreign direct investments, the JFC aims to contribute to the country’s economic development and prosperity.

In conclusion, the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines supports the proposed amendments to the economic provisions in the Constitution. Their belief in the removal of economic restrictions reflects their commitment to promoting a more conducive business environment. While concerns exist within the JFC regarding the ongoing Cha-cha debate, they remain dedicated to engaging in constructive dialogue and supporting initiatives that benefit the Philippines’ economic growth and development.

Source: The Manila Times

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