21 July 2015

APEC News Release

President Aquino signs Philippine Competition Act, Cabotage Law amendments
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday signed into law two landmark bills aimed at promoting trade and fair competition.The President signed Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act, and Republic Act 10668 or Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act before government officials and businessmen at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang Palace.

In his speech, President Aquino noted the importance of the Philippine Competition Act and the amendments to the Cabotage Law, which were among the priority measures in the Congress.

“Sa pagsasabatas nga po ng Philippine Competition Act, naisusulong ang kompetisyon sa merkado. Ngayon, sa wakas, maliit man o malaki ang negosyo, ang labanan ay nasa paglalabas ng de-kalidad na produkto sa pinakamakatuwirang presyo, imbes na under the table o ang paramihan ng kuneksiyon. Dito, makakamit natin ang punto kung saan ang mamimili, mas totoo ang presyong binabayaran, ‘yung nagbebenta naman, nahihikayat na pahusayin pa ang kanilang serbisyo. Sa dulo, lahat nakikinabang, lahat panalo,” he said about the bill that was ratified by Congress after 25 years.

“Ganyan din po ang prinsipyong itinataguyod natin sa pagpirma sa Liberalization of Philippine Cabotage. Itong Cabotage Law na ito ay hango pa sa Tariff and Customs Code of 1978, at ngayon nga lang naibabagay sa ating mga pangangailangan. Nagsimula nga po siguro ang batas na ito para maengganyong mapaunlad ang ating shipping industry, at magkaroon ng kakayahang makipagsabayan. Ang problema, kakarampot ang dumadagdag na mga barko natin na nagresulta sa absurdong sitwasyon kung saan kontrolado ng iilan lang ang takbo ng merkado. Kaya nga po, dumating na tayo sa panahong kailangan na nating baguhin ang sistemang nakagawian,” the President explained.

“Sa mga amyenda po ninyo, malayang makakapagkalakal ang mga banyagang barko ng kanilang imported at exported na kargamento sa kanilang napiling port of destination. Dahil dito, mapapadali at mapapamura ang export at import ng mga produkto, na magbubunsod ng mas masiglang merkado. Talagang nakakatipid ang lahat ng stakeholders, mula sa mga mamimili hanggang sa mga negosyante,” he further said.

The Philippine Competition Act aims to enhance economic proficiency and promote free and fair competition in trade, industry and all commercial economic activities.

It seeks to prevent economic concentration, which will control the production, distribution, trade or industry that will unduly stifle competition, distort, manipulate or constrict the discipline of free markets; and penalize all forms of anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions, with the objective of protecting consumer welfare and advancing domestic and international trade and economic development.

Under the law, a Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) will be established, with the President appointing a chairperson, four commissioners and an executive director.

The PCC can impose administrative fines of P100 million in the first offense and P250 million for the second offense for abuse of dominant position and prohibited merger.

The law also prohibits agreements, between and among competitors, which have the object or effect of substantially preventing, restricting or lessening competition.

The Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act, on the other hand, allows foreign vessels to transport and co-load foreign cargoes for domestic trans-shipment.

It aims to assist importers and exporters in enhancing their competitiveness in the light of intensifying international trade and to lower the cost of shipping export cargoes from Philippine ports to international ports and import cargos from international ports.

Under the law, a foreign vessel arriving from a foreign port would be allowed to carry a foreign cargo to its domestic port of final destination, after being cleared at the port of entry. The foreign vessel will also be allowed to carry foreign cargo by another foreign vessel calling at the same port of entry to the Philippine port of final destination of such foreign cargo.

For a foreign vessel departing from a Philippine port of origin through another local port, it would be allowed to carry foreign cargo intended for export.

The foreign vessel will also be allowed to carry foreign cargo by another foreign vessel through a domestic trans-shipment port and transferred at such domestic trans-shipment port to its foreign port of final destination.

An empty foreign container van going to or coming from any domestic port, or going to or coming from a foreign port, and being trans-shipped between two domestic ports will be allowed.

Present during the event were Senate President Franklin Drilon, House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Representative Neptali Gonzales, Jr., Senators Cynthia Villar and Vicente Sotto III, House Committee on Trade and Industry chairperson Representative Mark Villar, and House Committee on Economic Affairs senior vice chairperson Representative Dakila Carlo Cua.

Also in attendance were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. PND (jm)

APEC meeting in Iloilo to tackle major infrastructure concerns in Asia-Pacific region
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) delegates are meeting in Iloilo City on Thursday and Friday for the Workshop on Infrastructure Financing and Capital Market Development, which aims to address the challenges in the Asia-Pacific region’s infrastructure sector.Although Asia-Pacific economies have achieved significant progress in raising living standards, the region’s infrastructure has not kept pace with economic growth.

The increasing congestion of roads, power shortages, and inadequate public services imperil hard-won economic gains for many economies in the region.

Insufficient progress in expanding infrastructure to less-developed areas has resulted in uneven growth, contributing to regional and social inequalities and threatening to mire them in the middle-income trap.

Discussions held under the auspices of the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process (FMP) in previous years have identified two major obstacles.

The first is the lack of a pipeline of bankable infrastructure projects in developing economies that can attract capital from institutional investors.

The second concern is the lack of appropriate financial instruments and enabling policy frameworks for pension funds and insurance firms to expand their investment in emerging market infrastructure.

By addressing these two issues, the FMP can remove two major obstacles to the advancement of the APEC’s vision of sustained, balanced and inclusive growth.

The APEC seminar in Iloilo City will seek to identify concrete and practical initiatives to address these issues that can be progressed by the FMP in coming years as part of the Cebu Action Plan.

The meeting’s agenda includes building capacity to expand the pipeline of infrastructure projects.

Much work has been undertaken in previous years to address this challenge. There has been much focus on this aspect in the work of multilateral and public agencies, for example, in assisting economies with project preparation.

The FMP’s initiatives in this area are establishing the Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership (APIP) to serve as a platform for public-private sector dialogue, and the creation of a regional network of PPP Centers among interested developing economies to help improve cross-agency coordination and to serve as channels for technical assistance.

Also part of the agenda in Iloilo is the development of capital markets, because it provides the most important channels for investing long-term funds in infrastructure.

The active participation of pension funds and insurance firms benefited the region’s infrastructure development.

At present, many economies in the region have become increasingly aware of the importance of local currency bond markets both for financial stability and for economic growth.

Also, a number of regional and domestic initiatives have been under way for several years to strengthen these bond markets.

The APEC delegates will also tackle initiatives to mobilize long-term investments in the region.

While efforts to develop capital markets take time, the FMP can explore other ways to mobilize long-term investments through collaboration among institutional investors, financial institutions and multilateral development agencies as well as private equity funds.

The APEC meeting in Iloilo City, to be held at the Royal Garden Hall Convention Center, is being organized by the Department of Finance, in collaboration with the APEC Business Advisory Council, Asia-Pacific Financial Forum, and Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership. PND (as)