Foreign Investments in the Philippines

Foreign Investments Act of 1991

Republic Act 7042 as amended by RA 8179, also known as the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, is the basic law that governs foreign investments in the Philippines. It is considered a landmark legislation because it liberalized the entry of foreign investments into the country.

Under this law, foreign investors are allowed to invest 100% equity in companies engaged in almost all types of business activities subject to certain restrictions as prescribed in the Foreign Investments Negative List (FINL).

The FINL is a shortlist of investment areas or activities which may be opened to foreign investors and/or reserved to Filipino nationals.The Foreign Investments Negative Lists (FINL) are classified as follows:

Consists of areas of activities reserved to Philippine nationals where foreign equity participation in any domestic or export enterprise engaged in any activity listed therein shall be limited to a maximum of forty percent (40%) as prescribed by the Constitution and other specific laws.

Consists of areas of activities where foreign ownership is limited pursuant to law such as defense or law enforcement-related activities, which have negative implications on public health and morals, and small and medium-scale enterprises.

(Any amendment to List A may be made at any time to reflect changes instituted in specific laws while amendments to List B shall not be made more often than once every two years, pursuant to Section 8 of RA 7042 (as amended) and its revised Implementing Rules and Regulations.)

The FIA clearly states that if the activity to be engaged in: is not included in the FINL, is more than 40% foreign-owned, and will cater to the domestic market, the capital required is at least two hundred thousand dollars (US$200,000.00). The capital may be lowered to one hundred thousand dollars (US$100,000.00), if activity involves advance technology, or the company employs at least 50 direct employees.

f the foreign company will export at least 60% of its output, or a trader that purchases products domestically will export at least 60% of its purchases, the required capital is only Php5,000.00.

If the company is at least 60% Filipino-40% foreign-owned and will cater to the domestic market, paid-in capital of the corporation can be less than US$200,000.00.


SPECIFIC AREAS OF EQUAL INVESTMENT RIGHTS FOR FORMER FILIPINO NATIONALS

While most areas of businesses have limits for foreign investors, Section 9 of the amended Foreign Investments Act of 1991 lists the following types of businesses where former natural-born Filipinos can enjoy the same investment rights as a Philippine citizen.

1. Cooperatives
2. Rural banks
3. Thrift banks and private development banks

4. Financing companies

Former natural born Filipinos can also engage in activities under List B of the FINL.This means that their investments shall be treated as Filipino or will be considered as forming part of Filipino investments in activities closed or limited to foreign participation.

The equal investment rights of former Filipino nationals do not extend to activities under List A of FINL which are reserved for Filipino citizens under the Constitution.

Former natural born Filipinos have also been given the right to be transferees of private land up to a maximum of 5,000 square meters in the case of urban land or three (3) hectares in the case of rural land to be used for business or other purposes.


KEY FEATURES OF THE FIA

  • Concept of a negative list
  • Opened domestic market to 100% foreign investment except those inthe Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL)
  • Redefined ‚ “export enterprise” to mean at least 60% for export
  • Allowed 100% foreign ownership of business activities outside FINL butwithout incentives