- The Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Plant Industry are coordinating to hasten Philippine participation in cross-border exchange of the electronic phytosanitary certificates with ASEAN members
- The two agencies held a kick-off meeting where they expressed full cooperation to ensure successful electronic exchange of phytosanitary certificates with ASEAN peers via the ASEAN Single Window
- BOC and BPI also agreed to promote trade facilitation and close ranks in dealing with the import and export of plants and plant products
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) are coordinating to facilitate Philippine participation in cross-border exchange of electronic phytosanitary certificates (e-Phyto) with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members.
BOC and BPI held a kick-off meeting where both agencies expressed full support and cooperation to ensure the country’s successful electronic exchange of phytosanitary certificates with ASEAN via the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), BOC said in a statement.
An ePhyto certificate is the electronic equivalent of the paper phytosanitary certificate and guarantees that a plant or plant product for export is free from pests and diseases, and conforms to other phytosanitary requirements by the importing country.
BOC said the cross-border exchange of the e-Phyto will reduce document falsification, increase transparency and predictability in agri-food trade, and speed up customs clearance.
The Philippines is expected to exchange e-Phyto certificates with other ASEAN members using the BOC e-Phyto Management Portal, which has access to the e-Phyto certificates issued by BPI, the country’s National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), as well as those issued by the respective NPPOs of exporting countries.
Last October, BPI relaunched its e-Phyto system that allows exporters to apply for phytosanitary certificates online and enable the Philippines to exchange e-Phytos with trading partners and eventually do away with paper versions.
READ: ePhyto certificate application relaunched
E-Phyto implementation complies with the global initiative under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), a multilateral treaty deposited with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and recognized by the World Trade Organization, of which the Philippines is a member. It also complies with the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.
Since 2011, the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, which oversees the implementation of the IPPC, has been encouraging electronic certification.
The BPI system is already receiving electronic e-Phytos from select countries that include Australia, Argentina, Chile, Denmark, France, New Zealand, and Panama.
BOC and BPI also agreed during the meeting to promote trade facilitation and strengthen their relations regarding the import and export of plants and plant products.
Follow-up activities between BOC and BPI include data and process mapping covering both incoming and outgoing e-Phyto messages with ASEAN, as well as system alignment with other modes of exchange that BPI is currently implementing, such as via the IPPC Hub and bilateral arrangements with Australia.
Aside from e-Phyto, electronic certificates of origin can be exchanged by Philippine exporters with other ASEAN members. Last December, BOC formally launched its online portal for electronic exchanges of the ASEAN customs declaration document via the ASW.
The ASW is the regional initiative to speed up cargo clearance and promote regional economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of cross-border documents among the 10 ASEAN members. – Roumina Pablo