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Quisumbing Torres (QT) participated as an Advocacy Partner in the EU-Philippines Business Summit 2017 (EPBS).

With the theme “The EU & the Philippines: Partners for Progress and Prosperity”, the trade forum was held in celebration of the EU-Philippine trade and investment ties and was a key venue for facilitating dialogue between key industry players and the government.

The summit formerly known as the EU-Philippines Business Dialogue was organized by the EU-Philippines Business Network (EPBN) in partnership with the European, British, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Nordic Chambers of Commerce along with the Belgian-Filipino Business Club.

With over 450 delegates, including seven Ambassadors and Embassy representatives and 18 Chargé d'affaires from Europe, Asia and the Philippines, EPBS 2017 was attended by the business sector's C-level decision makers and key industry players.

The summit focused on the current Philippine trade and investment regulations. It also identified the necessary action points to be carried forward as joint priorities for the new administration, congress and the EU business community in the Philippines.

QT Partners Maria Christina Macasaet-Acaban, Mia Carmela Imperial and Divina Pastora Ilas-Panganiban moderated key sessions on Creating a More Competitive Business Environment for the Philippines, ASEAN Integration, and High Potential Sectors in the Philippines and Investments in Europe.

"Both the public and private sectors appear to be aligned in their vision of a more competitive business environment for the Philippines, as one in which there is a more open investment client, ease in doing business, and fair market competition.

"The business community is eagerly awaiting whether Congress will indeed carry out several pending legislations, such as those that propose to liberalize certain sectors, remove red tape and make business transactions with the government more efficient, and improve the tax regime, among others and in such a case, whether the agencies under the executive department will implement these reforms in a manner that is aligned with the spirit behind them," said Christina, a partner in QT's Corporate & Commercial Practice Group and head of the firm's Competition Focus Group.

Christina moderated the panel session on Creating a More Competitive Business Environment for the Philippines. Among her panelists were Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio Balicasan, Chairman, Senate Committee for Trade, Commerce, and Industry Juan Miguel Zubiri, Delta Dore Asia Pacific Regional Director Martin Ruby and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George Barcelon. Asec. Frank Cimafranca of the Office of Consular Affairs delivered Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano's message on ASEAN Integration.

A panel discussion followed, moderated by QT's Dispute Resolution Partner, Mia Carmela Imperial. "The Philippines, through the cooperation of its public and private sectors, should continually work toward an inclusive ASEAN integration. Inclusivity is key, and should be present among the ASEAN member states and within each member state as well," Mia explained.

Among the panelists were Robert Bosch Philippines Managing Director Richard Walker, EU-ASEAN Business Council Executive Director Chris Humphrey, and ASEAN BAC Chairman Joey Concepcion.

The summit's afternoon session covered the High Potential Sectors in the Philippines and Investments in Europe including sub-topics on ICT: Growth Game Changer and Automotive, Manufacturing: Driving the EU-PH economies forward and Food and Beverage.

The open forum regarding the Information and Communications Technology session was moderated by QT's Intellectual Property Partner, Divina Pastora Ilas-Panganiban. "It is very evident that the Philippine government agencies tasked in the area of ICT sincerely listen and in fact, passionately support, the ICT industry. Likewise apparent is the strong willingness of the private sector to pro-actively assist the state in the fulfillment of its official programs and objectives.

Several areas for cooperation were threshed out between EU-Philippines Business sector, on one hand, and the DICT (which includes the NPC), on the other," shared Vina. Session speakers included The Philippine Board of Investments - Department of Trade and Industry (BOI-DTI) Executive Director Corazon “Corrie” Dichosa, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Leah Quiambao, Department of Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Monchito Ibrahim, Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines Partner Rosell Santillan-Gomez, and National Privacy Commission Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro. During the summit, the 2017 edition of the EPBN Advocacy Papers was formally handed over to Vice President Leni Robredo who also delivered the summit's closing keynote.

The third edition of the EPBN Advocacy Papers is a collection of position papers that highlight recommendations of reforms that seek to further level the playing field for both European and Filipino businesses alike.

It encompasses issues and recommendations which are the outcome of extensive discussions among members of the 14 EPBN sector Committees, bilateral dialogues and meetings with representatives of the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Philippine Government, in coordination with the EU Delegation to the Philippines, EU member states embassies and other European Embassies, participation in hearings and committee meetings in both Houses of the Philippines Congress and private sector consultations led by various executive bodies of the Philippine government.

Other key speakers in the summit were Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Hon. Ramon Lopez, House Committee on Economic Affairs Chairperson Arthur Yap, Mr. Walter van Hattum of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, Economic and Trade Section, Diageo Philippines General Manager Vanessa Gosiengfiao and Makati Business Club Executive Director Peter Perfecto. The EU-Philippines Business Summit 2017 was held at the Solaire Resort Hotel, Paranaque City.

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