Foreign investment approvals surged in the third quarter of 2017, but the year-to-date tally remained low, compared with the figure posted a year ago, the government reported on Thursday.
Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that seven monitored investment promotion agencies (IPAs) had approved just P43.01 billion in foreign pledges, up 61.1 percent from P26.71 billion a year earlier.
However, for the first three quarters of the year, total approved foreign investments fell 9.9 percent to P84.06 billion from P93.34 billion in 2016.
In the third quarter, only three of the seven IPAs recorded year-on-year growth: the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan, and Clark Development Corp.
Posting year-on-year drops were the Board of Investments (BOI), the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
The BOI-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao had P690 million worth of approved investments, but has no comparable record of investment approvals for the three-month period a year earlier.
Japan was the top prospective investing country in the quarter, with P21.4 billion worth of commitments, representing 49.7 percent of total foreign investment pledges. Taiwan and Australia followed with P8.9 billion (20.6 percent) and P2.8 billion (6.4 percent), respectively.
The largest share of these pledges—P25.1 billion—were for the manufacturing sector, followed by real estate (P10.1 billion) and administrative and support services (P2.9 billion).
In terms of location, Region 4A (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon provinces, or Calabarzon) had the largest share—P21.7 billion—followed by Region 1 (Ilocos) at P8.4 billion and the National Capital Region at P4.1 billion.
Approved investments of Filipinos and foreigners more than doubled to P274.4 billion in the third quarter, compared with P133.8 billion in the previous year.
Filipinos continued to dominate the investments approved in the quarter, with P231.3 billion, or an 84.3-percent share, in pledges.
Projects of foreign and Filipino investors approved by the seven IPAs in the third quarter are expected to generate 37,891 jobs. Of this figure, 72.7 percent would come from projects with foreign interest.
Meanwhile, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the approval of the revised Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) that is seen to spur foreign direct investments in the country would happen early next year.
“We cannot have a NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) Board meeting by year-end,” he added.
In November, President Duterte signed Memorandum Circular 16 that ordered the board to ease restrictions on foreign participation in eight investment areas.
These include private recruitment for local and overseas employment; practice of particular professions, where allowing foreign participation will redound to the public benefit; contracts to construct and repair locally funded public works; teaching at higher education levels; retail trade enterprises; and domestic market enterprises.