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PCCI bucks move to further open retail trade to foreigners

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The country’s biggest business organization warned against further liberalizing the retail industry in favor of foreign investors, raising caution that this would just aggravate the already struggling conditions affecting local micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Top officials of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said in a press briefing yesterday that the country was better off sticking to the status quo.

This adds to the growing divide between local and foreign business groups that have responded differently to the announcement that the minimum investment threshold in the retail sector would be further lowered, a move which PCCI said would “crowd out” local MSMEs. Foreign businesses, on the other hand, backed the bid for a lower threshold.

This followed an announcement early this week that the government wanted to lower the current minimum paid-up capital for the retail industry, dropping the current $2.5 million threshold to $200,000. Since then, PCCI has been receiving numerous queries from member companies, but even the chamber does not know the government’s rationale behind the plan that many fear would be at the expense of local MSMEs.

PCCI President George Barcelon said that the $2.5 million threshold was already considered low for retail markets in Europe and the United States. Further reducing that to an entry point “so low” would invite companies that would just want to “try” investing in the Philippines since they would have “nothing to lose.”

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