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Local retailers tell Chinese, foreigners to keep hands off SME industry

12:04 AM May 07, 2019

The Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) urged the government to stop China from engaging in small and medium businesses here.

Roberto Claudio, PRA vice chair, said in a statement on Monday that the proliferation of foreign-owned small and medium businesses is in “violation of the retail trade law.” He clarified all foreign investors, not just the Chinese, should not engage in the industry that has given many Filipinos their source of livelihood.

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The group said it was backing the call of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who said on Sunday that the Department of Trade and Industry and other agencies should shut down restaurants and other businesses exclusively catering to Chinese nationals.

Under the law, foreign retailers can only enter the Philippine market if their paid-up capital investment is at least $2.5 million, leaving space for Filipino retailers in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

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The Duterte administration wants to cut this threshold to $200,000, which some local business leaders fear might come at the expense of local MSMEs. Any change at this time requires revising the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.

“The existing law protects our Filipino SME entrepreneurs. We now see the proliferation of Chinese restaurants, Korean groceries, foreign operators in our tiangges even before the repeal of the existing law. In effect, they are operating in violation of the Retail Trade law,” he said.

The issue recently gained traction after social media called out a restaurant in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, named China Food City, which reportedly barred Filipinos from its premises since it was only serving Chinese workers employed in nearby online gaming companies.

Claudio, founder of sporting goods retailer Toby’s Sports, said big retailers could always look after themselves.

“This is a fight for the SME in our country. PRA is speaking for the future of our small Filipino entrepreneurs,” he said. —ROY STEPHEN C. CANIVEL

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TAGS: Business, Philippine Retailers Association (PRA)
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