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BILL AMENDING RETAIL TRADE LAW GETS SENATE OK

The Senate approved on third and final reading a measure that aims to further relax qualifications for foreign retailers to enter the Philippines.

Voting 20-0-0, the chamber passed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1840 seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 8762, otherwise known as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA) of 2000.

“The proposed measure aims to encourage foreign investments by removing some barriers for foreign retail investors.”

Senator Koko Pimentel III, chair of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship and sponsor of SBN 1840, said the proposed measure aims to encourage foreign investments by removing some barriers for foreign retail investors interested to engage in retail trade in the country.

Under SBN 1840, the paid-up capital for foreign retail enterprises will be lowered to P50 million from the current $2.5 million.

Under the current RTLA, foreigners are allowed to set up enterprises with a minimum paid-up capital of $2.5 million and in no case shall the investment for establishing a store will be less than $830,000.

The proposed measure also mandates foreign retailers’ country of origin to allow the entry of Filipino retailers.

To protect the micro and small enterprises in the country, SBN 1840 will require foreign retailers who wish to put up more than one physical store to invest at least P25 million for each store.

“It is the policy of the state to promote consumer welfare and protect investments that will bring down the cost of products for Filipino consumers.”

“It is the policy of the state to promote consumer welfare and protect investments that will bring down the cost of products for Filipino consumers and create a competitive retail environment that encourages innovation,” Pimentel said.

The amendatory bill also removes the pre-qualification requirement for foreign retailers to have been in retailing business for the past five years and should have at least five retailing branches anywhere in the world.

SBN 1840 also requires foreign retailers to maintain the P50 million paid-up capital in the Philippines at all times and failure to do so would subject the foreign retailer to penalties and be restricted to engage in any future business in the Philippines.

On the hiring of employees, the bill requires all foreign retailers to comply with the applicable provisions of the labor code on the determination of non-availability of competent, able, and willing Filipino before engaging the service of foreign nationals.

The bill also encourages foreign retailers to have a stock inventory of products that are made in the Philippines.

“I believe that through this initiative, additional capital will be infused into our economy and jobs will be created helping us recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the veteran legislator stressed.

SBN 1840 is a consolidation of Senate bills introduced by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri, Senators Win Gatchalian and Imee Marcos.

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