Foreign ownership restrictions relaxed in the Philippines retail trade.

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On December 10, 2021, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalisation Act (RTLA) or Republic Act No. 11595.

The amendments made to this bill opened the retail sector to foreign investment by lowering the required paid-up capital for foreign retail businesses, removing the requirement of the pre-qualification certification and reducing the minimum investment required for each physical store.

The Philippines’ retail sector was originally limited to Filipino citizens until the year 2000, when the first RTLA was introduced, which allowed foreign investors to engage in the retail sector but were subject to high paid-up capital requirements.

Republic Act No. 11595 reduced the minimum paid-up capital to USD 500,000 for all types of foreign-owned retails.

Before the introduction of Republic Act No. 11595, foreign ownership in the retail industry was grouped into three categories, excluding category A which was reserved only for Filipino citizens.

The table below provides a comparison of the minimum paid-up capital in the previous act and the new Act (Republic Act No. 11595).

Category

Minimum paid-up capital

Previous Act

New Act

B

At least USD 2.5 million but not more than USD 7 million

USD 500,000

C

At least USD 7 million or more

D

At least USD 250,000 per store (for foreign businesses specialising in high-end luxury products)

The new law also removes the requirement of obtaining the certification of pre-qualification from the Board of Investments (BOI), which was previously used as proof that foreign retailers met the pre-qualification requirements.

Republic Act No. 11595 also reduced the minimum investment requirement per store for foreign owned retail enterprises from USD 830,000 to USD 200,000. The minimum investment includes both tangible and intangible assets.

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