PH sorts out Japan trade issues

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila

PH sorts out Japan trade issues

Gov’t hopes to improve environment for investors

By Amy R. Remo

7 April 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine government will continue to sort out the trade concerns raised by the Japanese government during the eighth meeting of the subcommittee on the Improvement of Business Environment under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa).

“We tackled the concerns and issues of Japanese investors relating to the business environment. Among these are the power situation and the need for accessible, affordable and reliable energy in the coming years,” said Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. “We also discussed issues on logistics, policies and rules for consistency, ease of doing business concerns, and things related to taxation and incentives.”

According to Cristobal, the government has been actively responding to these concerns, such as that involving tax credit certificates (TCCs) issued to firms usually for income taxes withheld.

In 2012, President Aquino signed Executive Order No. 68, a new monetization program that allowed qualified taxpayers to convert to cash their existing tax credit certificates (TCCs). Government financial institutions served as trustee banks for this purpose.

“These issues and concerns are to be resolved. They are not just there to be heard. The power issues have been on the agenda for the past few meetings and we’re trying to respond to that. As for the TCCs, there are resolutions on that already,” Cristobal said. “We’ll be fast-tracking the rules and procedures to provide the TCC reimbursements. The government has shown its commitment because we already have those reimbursements in the (General Appropriations Act) for 2014 and 2015.”

Cristobal, however, declined to reveal the amount.

According to a statement issued by the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, representatives of both countries noted that progress had been made on issues such as VAT refund, Common Carriers Tax and Gross Philippine Billings (CCT/GPB), and collaboration in human resource development.

The representatives also tackled consistency of tax-related issues, sustainability of affordable and reliable supply of electricity, further utilization of the Batangas and Subic ports, additional surcharges introduced by SBMA, development of the Philippines as a human resource development (HRD) hub, and other issues and initiatives.

The subcommittee on Improvement of Business Environment is regarded to be of “significant importance because it provides a forum for dialogue between public and private sectors of both countries to discuss specific issues in order to ensure transparent, predictable and consistent business environment.”

“This regular semiannual dialogue with parties concerned is indispensable for further improvement of business environment, which is constantly evolving,” according to a statement issued by the subcommittee.

The subcommittee will convene again in September.

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