MANILA, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to "exert utmost efforts" to ease or lift restrictions on certain investment areas with limited foreign participation, the presidential spokesman said on Thursday.
In a bid to raise the Philippines' level of competitiveness, Harry Roque, the presidential spokesman, said Duterte has issued a memorandum ordering NEDA and its member agencies to take immediate steps "to lift or ease existing restrictions on foreign participation in (eight) investment areas or activities."
The areas include private recruitment for local and overseas employment, the practice of particular professions, where allowing foreign participation will redound to the public benefit, contracts for the construction and repair of locally-funded public works, teaching at higher education levels, retail trade enterprises and domestic market enterprises.
The memorandum circular also covers public services, except activities and systems recognized as public utilities such as transmission and distribution of electricity, water, pipeline distribution system, and sewerage pipeline system.
It likewise calls for the easing of government restriction for culture, production, milling, processing, and trading except retailing, of rice and corn and acquiring by barter, purchase or otherwise, rice, corn, and other by-products.
Apart from promoting the country's competitiveness, the order seeks to foster higher economic growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region and beyond through joint endeavors and partnerships with other countries.
The NEDA is the Philippines' major national economic development and planning agency.
This move aims to amend the Tenth Regular Foreign Investment Negative List under Executive Order No. 184 issued in 2015, in accordance with the objectives of the order.
The foreign investment negative list covers investment areas and activities open to foreign investors or reserved only to Philippine investors. The list also indicates the extent of foreign equity participation in specific investment activities.
NEDA chief Ernesto Pernia has earlier said that his government agency would push for an aggressive liberalization of the foreign investment negative list, particularly in the areas of retail trade, the practice of professions, public utilities and infrastructure contractors.
Under the Philippine 1987 Constitution, foreign ownership in some key businesses is limited to up 40 percent, which foreign chambers and investors had sought an amendment to, to lure more foreign investors to the country.