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From Ince Gordon Dadds

Easing of foreign ownership restrictions in key strategic sectors in the Philippines


The coming year is looking to be another exciting one for the Philippines as the country is poised to lift or ease foreign restrictions in key investment areas. 

Several pending bills are being deliberated in both houses of Congress seeking amendments to the Public Service Act – the 1936-issued commonwealth act that continues to govern key industries in the Philippines such as transportation, telecommunications and ports. Because of this classification, foreign ownership and control of operations in these industries are presently limited to forty percent (40%). If the legislative amendments pass, allowable foreign participation would be increased if not permitted without limits.

In parallel, the Executive Department is consolidating efforts to support the legislative efforts. Last month, President Duterte issued this directive to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and further instructed the agency to revisit the foreign investment negative list (FINL) released regularly by the President in order to identify the restrictions that may be lifted even without the legislative amendments.

Ince & Co LLP has extensive experience in the Philippines and in the energy, terminal and maritime infrastructure sector, advising our clients on project development, acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate finance and construction. International firms are currently not permitted to open offices in the Philippines and we have long standing relationships with a number of leading local firms, allowing us to engage the strongest representation and experience to serve our clients.

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Ton van den Bosch of our Singapore office worked as general counsel in Manila for many years. He has a very close relationship with the Philippines. He has a deep understanding of the Philippine market, of its business, legal and cultural practices and he has firsthand experience navigating local and regulatory challenges and opportunities in the Philippines.

This is an exciting time, not just for investors and banks, but also for international companies active in the construction, ports, terminals, retail and power business. 

If we can help you explore these new opportunities in the Philippines, please contact Ton Van den Bosch.