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Foreign chambers target $128 billion in FDI by 2030, mostly for energy

In file photo: The Burgos wind farm of First Gen-owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the country’s largest renewable energy producer.

THE Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) targets to generate $128 billion worth of foreign direct investments (FDI) by 2030, and noted that majority of these might be poured into the Energy sector.

“We set the target to $50 billion [in 2020] and now it’s at $78 billion. We have raised it. Make it a total of $128 billion by the end of 2030,” American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (AmCham) Executive Director Ebb Hinchliffe said at the press briefing for the 11th Arangkada Philippines Forum on Thursday.

In a joint statement, the seven members of the JFC said they expect the strong economic performance of the Philippines to continue on the back of the recent undertaking of reforms and policy directions that they believe “can provide significant opportunities for foreign investment, job creation, and improved services.”

On the “game-changing” liberalization reforms long-advocated for by the seven business groups and its partner Philippine business groups, the JFC said these are: the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and Public Service Act.

The foreign business groups are also banking on the reforms to develop “important” sectors of the economy such as the Creative Industries Development Act and the Electric Vehicles Development Act (EVIDA).

Moreover, the seven foreign chambers are counting on the revision of the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) Law implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to address private sector concerns and reinvigorate the public-private partnership (PPP) in the country; and the decision to allow IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) firms to implement alternative work arrangement without losing incentives.

On top of the above-mentioned key reforms that will attract investments, the seven foreign chambers hailed the opening up of the renewable energy sector to more foreign investments through a recent legal opinion by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the amendment of the IRR of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

In fact, President of European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) Lars Wittig said, “the most recent taking effect also this month, the implementing rules and regulations regarding sustainable energy… [is expected to] result in billion dollar investments from Europe alone.”

Hinchliffe agreed that the recent amendments to the IRR of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 will contribute a huge chunk to the investments that will come to the Philippines in the coming years, noting, “Energy will be a big part. I know there’s a lot of interest from the energy side especially as we shift away from coal…to more renewable energy. I think the recently issued IRR on renewable energy…that is bigger than [Public Service Act] PSA. Those are big, big projects…a lot of interest both from the US and Europe.”

Germans laud DOE

In a statement two weeks ago, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) lauded the Energy department’s decision under Department Circular No. 2022-11-0034 to amend provisions of the said law to allow more foreign players to participate in the local renewable energy sector.

In a separate statement issued on the same day two weeks ago, the Makati Business Club (MBC), a Philippine business group, also lauded Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla and his team at the DOE for issuing the circular.

“Because of our limited generation capacity, investments in RE will make us leapfrog to a power mix that is lower-cost, better for environment, and even win us a slice of the industry,” MBC Executive Director Francisco Alcuaz Jr. said in a recent statement.

For his part, Lotilla as the country’s Energy chief earlier underscored the country’s vast potential in renewable energy development. He said the easing of foreign equity restrictions in the RE sector will bring about increased investments in the sector, which he said would “certainly contribute to our economy, provide jobs to our people, and help meet the goal of increasing the RE in the power generation mix of 35 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.”

“With the impressive amount of interest the DOE has been receiving both from the local and foreign investors in RE development, particularly in the offshore wind potential, the State can now directly undertake the exploration, development, production and utilization of RE resources or it can enter into RE Service or Operating Contracts with Filipino and/or foreign citizen or Filipino and/or foreign-owned corporations or associations,” the DOE secretary said two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Hinchliffe noted that apart from the Energy sector, the manufacturing and agriculture sectors have the potential to attract investments.

On manufacturing, the AmCham official said, “It’s coming. I think there’ll be more expansion in the semiconductor field, electronics. You got three huge semiconductor companies here.”

As for agriculture, he said, “Agriculture is a tremendous opportunity. That’s your ground zero. You can take much on the technology side of not just equipment but technology software. Those types of programs …help farmers and increase productivity.”

The JFC is a coalition of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, Korean chambers and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Incorporated. It “supports and promotes” open international trade, increased foreign investment, and improved conditions for business to benefit both the Philippines and the countries the JFC members represent

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