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British firms eye bigger slice of PH retail market

The British business chamber wants the government to give retail companies an easier time entering the Philippines, calling this a reform that will spark the interest of British investors.
In the year-end briefing of the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP), BCCP executive chair Chris Nelson reiterated the group’s support for the amendment of the decades old retail trade liberalization law.

Several bills are currently filed in Congress to amend the law, which was passed in 2000. Previous attempts to amend it, even with the backing of Duterte’s economic managers, had failed. “I think, overall, what we are looking for is how we can increase foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the Philippines and how you can further liberalize your economy,” Nelson said. “I think we if get the retail trade liberalization [law amended], that’s something we can promote,” he added.

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

The government wants to cut this threshold to $200,000, which some local business leaders fear might come at the expense of local MSMEs.

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“If we can [amend] the retail trade liberalization act, if there can be further easing in terms of the restrictions of FDI, I think UK companies will be very interested,” he said.
Over the last five years, the BCCP, in partnership with the UK Department for International Trade, has assisted over 2,300 British companies who are interested in doing business in the Philippines.

Although this does not necessarily guarantee a company’s decision to set up shop in the country, the BCCP said in a statement that retail was among the sectors that generate “high interest” from British companies, apart from education, construction, health care and business consultancy.

The BCCP has increased its membership through the years. The group now has 309 member companies, as opposed to back in 2013, when it only had 193 firms. INQ

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TAGS: Business, PH retail market
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