BOC devotes webpage to new trade facilitation roadmap

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has added a new webpage to its website that provides the details of a roadmap or action plan for strengthening Philippine trade facilitation initiatives over the next six years.

The Philippine Trade Facilitation Committee (PTFC) Roadmap 2022-2028, an action plan that contains the Committee’s short- and medium-term activities leading to the building of a world-class international trade gateway, is now available on the BOC’s official website, the agency has announced.

The PTFC Roadmap describes the responsibilities of the Committee’s member agencies and the corresponding performance indicators to enhance trade facilitation from 2022 to 2028.

The PTFC was created through Executive Order (EO) No. 136 series of 2021, which was issued in May last year in compliance with Philippine commitments under the World Trade Organization-Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO-TFA). The TFA sets the provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.

Under EO 136, the Committee will act as the country’s official national trade facilitation body and establish the mechanisms for facilitating both domestic coordination and implementation of WTO-TFA provisions. Accordingly, the Committee will also assist in reducing trade transaction costs, and in enabling micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to participate more actively in international trade and in regional and global value chains.

The Committee has the Department of Finance as chair, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as co-chair, and the Bureau of Customs as vice chair. Members are the Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, Tariff Commission, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, DTI’s Bureau of International Trade Relations and Bureau of Import Services, Food and Drug Administration, and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

The trade facilitation roadmap is anchored on six key reform areas (KRAs), with the goal of achieving an inclusive and sustainable trade facilitation response and fostering better cross-border trade standards and procedures.

These KRAs are stakeholder engagement, inter-agency coordination, technology infrastructure, legal and regulatory framework, emergency response measures, and support to MSMEs.

The KRAs were drawn from and considered the WTO-TFA Philippine Assessment Report released in July 2021 by the World Bank Group on the current status of the Philippine’s implementation of the WTO-TFA; the results of the BOC’s 2019 time release study, which assessed the bureau’s current needs and existing challenges; and stakeholder inputs from the BOC PTFC Stakeholders’ Consultation in 2021.

In addition, the new challenges brought on by the pandemic and other emergencies exposed not only existing gaps in current border processes, procedures and facilities, but also the vulnerabilities of MSMEs. To address these gaps, the Roadmap incorporates a range of trade facilitation measures developed to respond to emergencies, crises, and pandemics, as well as initiatives, future goals, and a series of activities to support MSMEs.

Notably, for the KRA promoting MSME support, the Roadmap envisions that “by 2028, MSMEs in the Philippines will have enhanced access to relevant rules, regulations, incentives and procedures and are able to trade and participate in global value chains through transparent and simplified procedures. Through support and close coordination with the government, they will have access to modern trade and customs systems and trusted trader schemes.”

According to the Roadmap, this vision for MSMEs will be achieved through building capacity in trade regulations and procedures; facilitating the use of IT to engage in paperless trade procedures; increasing the access of MSMEs to trusted trader schemes; and establishing a single point of contact for first-time exporters.

It also calls for increasing MSMEs’ awareness and utilization of the Philippine National Trade Repository, National Single Window and other online trade portals or tools; holding regular consultations that focus on the particular needs of MSMEs; and streamlining processes and procedures in order to lower the cost of trade.

More information on the PTFC Roadmap is available by going to the “References” menu on the homepage or clicking the link

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