ASEAN self-certification scheme designed to benefit MSME exporters the most

A trade official has advised micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to utilize the ASEAN-Wide Self-Certification Scheme (AWSC) for their exports, saying the regional trade initiative was created to benefit them in particular.

“This scheme is really intended for MSMEs so they can maximize their participation in international trade,” said Denise Cheska Enriquez, OIC-division chief of regional relations and arrangements at the Bureau of International Trade Relations of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

She said that through the AWSC, MSME exporters can claim the benefits from the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), which mandates that member countries remove import duties on 99.6% of tariff lines in the inclusion list.

The AWSC is a trade facilitation initiative that simplifies and streamlines procedure so exporters can claim and be granted ATIGA preferential tariff treatment.

Under the AWSC, exporters may apply for certified exporter status, which when granted, allows them to issue a declaration of origin that certifies the originating status of their goods.

The origin declaration stating that the exporter’s goods meet all ATIGA requirements may be used instead of the certificate of origin (CO), which is issued by a competent authority, in claiming preferential tariffs.

Enriquez, in a recent webinar organized by the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT), stressed there are many benefits for MSME exporters that avail themselves of the AWSC, which was implemented just last year, on September 20.

The scheme facilitates trade and streamlines export procedures, allowing the certified exporter to ship out goods even on weekends by issuing its own origin declaration instead of having to obtain a CO form from the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

It also lightens the administrative burden and cost of the exporter, improves ease of doing business, and provides operational certainty to businesses.

Enriquez explained that exporters don’t always get to enjoy lower tariff rates due to difficulty in obtaining paperwork to avail of ATIGA preferential tariff rates, leaving them paying higher tariffs that make their goods less competitive in the regional market.

Through self-certification, the certified exporter is released from the administrative burden of having to obtain the CO from the BOC for every shipment, leading to time and cost savings.

Enriquez encouraged MSME exporters to apply for accreditation as a certified exporter with the BOC and to be registered on the AWSC secured website maintained by the ASEAN Secretariat.

“It is very important to confirm with the BOC that you have already been registered in the website before you make any declaration,” she advised.

“Once you become a CE and your details are on the website, you may already begin issuing declarations for your products… and your importer will show these to the customs when they clear their goods so that they enjoy the preferential treatment for their goods.”

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