Best Practices in Trade Facilitation
1. Philippine Tariff Finder
On the occasion of its 60th anniversary year in 2013, the Tariff Commission (TC) introduced a new frontline service. The Philippine Tariff Finder (PTF) is a free online facility hosted on the Commission’s website which houses the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) and Free Trade Area (FTA) tariff schedules of the Philippines. Incorporating a powerful search engine that permits quick tariff searching by keyword or by ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) 2012 product code, the PTF is the single authoritative source on Philippine import duties aside from providing the convenience and ease of access to a total of eight (8) tariff schedules covering nearly 80,000 tariff lines based on the latest commodity nomenclature.
The Philippine has one bilateral FTA: the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA). In addition, the Philippines is one of ten (10) Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN. As an ASEAN Member State, the Philippines participates in six (6) FTAs, namely the ASEAN FTA itself, ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand (AANZFTA), ASEAN-China (ACFTA), ASEAN-India (AIFTA), ASEAN-Japan (AJCEPA), and ASEAN-Korea (AKFTA). All these FTAs have their own tariff schedules which used to be available from widely dispersed sources. The PTF collects all these data in one centralized facility which is available 24/7 on the internet.
By simplifying the tariff search process and pushing the data to the public, the Commission, through the PTF, seeks to actively contribute to the national effort to make the various FTAs more Philippines-business friendly. As the ASEAN Economic Community is being realized, the transparency, visibility and accessibility of Philippine tariffs through the PTF is seen by the Commission as helping close the information gap and creating an enabling business environment for the largely micro-, small- and medium scale Philippine enterprise to address challenges and seize opportunities for growth.
As testament to the impact of the PTF, no less than his Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III mentioned the facility in his statement for the 23rd ASEAN Summit delivered on 9 October 2013 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam:
“In support of the Phnom Penh Agenda for ASEAN Community Building and to facilitate the free flow of goods in our region, the Philippines has developed the Philippine Tariff Finder. As the first of its kind in the ASEAN, this free online facility allows users to do a quick search of Philippine tariff rates on specific products and also enables them to acess the eight existing Philippine tariff schedules.”
At the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Customs-Business Dialogue eld in Cebu City in August 2015, TC Chairman Edgardo B. Abon announced that the TC has completed enhancements to its Philippine Tariff Finder (PTF) to provide traders up-to-date information on tariff rates for goods entering the Philippines.
The free online facility promotes efficiency and predictability in cargo clearance processes and helping the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and businesses alike to properly classify imported goods and their corresponding tariff rates. According to Atty. Abon, the Philippines is one of very few countries in the world that have developed such a facility. He said the enhanced PTF will held traders make better long-term business plans, since they can now access information useful for deciding on products and suppliers that attract the lowest tariff rates.
Traders will also save time and resources, since all tariff information they need are now readily available in a singled government website.
Moreover, the enhanced PTF will serve as an important took for minimizing confusion among BoC frontliners in determining applicable and correct tariff rates for good entering the country, is one of the ways government is increasing transparency and expediting customs clearance processes. The BoC carries a quick link to the PTF on its website.
Last year, the TC, in collaboration with the BoC and with the support from the United States Agency for International Development, began updating and augmenting the PTF’s features such as development of a multi-search function and expansion of the database to include other important information such as applicable tariff rates under the reciprocity arrangements in several free trade agreements and the rules of origin criteria used to determine a product’s eligibility for preferential tariff treatment.
The PTF is a symbol of the Commission’s continuing commitment to providing innovative public service in support of the national priority objectives of making growth inclusive and sustaining the growth momentum.
The enhanced PTF is hosted on the TC website at http//:www.tariffcommission.gov.ph/ and is now available to the general public.
2. Bureau of Customs (BOC) Self-Certification Project
In August 2008 Council Meeting, mandated the development of mechanisms that will enhance the AFTA Rules of Origin (ROO) and streamline certification procedures in line with the objectives of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). This resulted in the initiative towards the adoption of a self-certification system in ASEAN.
The introduction of a self-certification arrangement in establishing the origin of goods in ASEAN Member States is set to facilitate utilization of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA). The system eliminates the need to present a Certificate of Origin (CO) Form D to claim preference under the ATIGA as it allows “Certified Exporters” to self-declare that their products have satisfied the ASEAN origin criteria by simply affixing a declaration on the commercial invoice.
There are two pilot projects in implementing self-certification system, to acquire knowledge and practical experience of the self-certification mechanism in preparation of the ASEAN-wide implementation of the self-certification system. The first pilot project is composed of Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Singapore, while the second pilot project is composed by the Philippines, Indonesia and Laos PDR.
To implement the MOU for the Second Pilot Project, Executive Order No. 142 dated 14 October 2013 was approved by the President. Subsequently, CAO No. 06-2013 and CMO 02-2014 was issued by the Bureau of Customs providing for the operational procedure in the processing of documents under this system and the guidelines for the accreditation of exporters/manufacturers.