Philippines Plans Charter Change to Ease Foreign Ownership Limit

(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines plans to amend its Constitution next year to help ease restrictions on foreign investment, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.

Dominguez informed Japanese investors in a recent forum in Tokyo that the government is also reviewing its so-called Foreign Investment Negative List to increase foreign ownership limits in the areas of construction and other sectors, the Finance Department said in a statement. The review, which the finance chief described as the first step, started in May.

The second step, which requires the cooperation of the Congress, “is through the amendment of the Constitution, and the president has called for a revision of our constitution, which we believe will start probably next year or in about 12 months,” Dominguez said.

The Philippines has lagged most of its peers in Southeast Asia in terms of attracting foreign direct investment, the Finance Department said, citing data from the 2016 Asean Investment Report.

The Philippines had a net FDI inflow of $5.724 billion in 2015 or only 4.7 percent of the total net inflow of $120.818 billion in the region. Singapore accounted for half of the net FDI inflows for that year.