DTI urges immediate passage of Cabotage, Competition Laws

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has renewed its call for the immediate passage of the proposed Cabotage Law and Competition Law to improve the country’s business climate.

In a statement yesterday, Trade Undersecretary Prudencio Reyes Jr. said the passage of both measures would make the country a more attractive place for business.

House Bill 5610, which amends the country’s set of laws and policies on cabotage, seeks to allow foreign ships to dock at multiple ports as well as co-load foreign cargoes for domestic transshipment.

The proposed measure is considered critical to the economy with the bulk of Philippine merchandise trade carried through maritime transport.

“It will be beneficial not only in terms of enhancing the competitiveness of our importers and exporters but also in encouraging SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to take advantage of opportunities in the international market as significant reduction to shipping cost is expected upon its enactment,” Reyes said.

House Bill 5286, also known as the Philippine Competition Act seeks to provide a legal and institutional framework to create a level playing field and prevent abuse of market power and dominance.

Among the key provisions of the bill is the creation of an independent Philippine Competition Commission which would ensure businesses do not collectively engage in anti-competitive acts and practices such as cartelization, collusion, bid rigging and price fixing.

If passed into law, the measure is expected to benefit consumers in terms of having a wider range of products and services to choose from.

Both bills were approved on third reading recently by the House of Representatives.

The Senate versions of both proposals have been passed earlier.

The Bicameral Conference Committee is set to meet soon to facilitate the final approval of the proposed measures.

Both are targeted to be enacted into law before the last State of the Nation Address of President Aquino in July.

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