The Department of Finance (DOF) has endorsed the accession of the Philippine government to the Customs Convention on the ATA Carnet for Temporary Admission of Goods, also known as the ATA Convention or Istanbul Convention.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez made the endorsement in an official letter dated August 8, 2019 to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr.
In the letter, Dominguez said the DOF “is agreeable to the acceding to the Istanbul Convention” under certain conditions meant to ensure compliance with national laws and regulations and preserve the country’s rights and interests.
He said the department believes the Istanbul Convention will “help promote efficiency, consistent with this Administration’s policy of promoting ease of doing business and efficient service delivery.”
The private sector, represented by trade associations including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., has long collaborated with these government agencies including the Export Development Council and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in pushing for the adoption of the ATA Carnet to facilitate access of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and small exporters to foreign markets.
In January 2018, DTI in a position paper said implementing the system “will enable local entrepreneurs, especially the MSMEs, to participate in trade exhibits, fairs and shows overseas without paying duties and taxes.”
In addition, it will facilitate importation of commercial samples, professional equipment and articles for presentation or use in exhibitions without undergoing the usual customs formalities, “thus enabling traders to save cost and time in clearing goods at the borders.”
At the same time, it will assist Filipino exporters “to access key target markets such as China, USA, EU, Japan, and United Arab Emirates-all of which are signatories to the ATA Carnet,” DTI said.
DTI also pointed out that the provisions of the customs convention conform to the provisions of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, and that its principles are already provided under Republic Act No. 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
The ATA Carnet, also known as the “Merchandise Passport” or the “Passport for Goods,” is an international customs document permitting the duty-free and tax-free temporary export and import of goods for up to one year. It serves as the entry declaration and a single document of goods that will pass through several customs territories. It is the facility utilized by contracting parties to move products during trade fairs, shows and international exhibitions. At present there are more than 80 contracting parties and countries to the ATA Carnet.
In his letter to Locsin, Dominguez said various concerned agencies have already given their concurrence to the Philippine accession. These include DTI, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Tariff Commission, Department of Tourism, and National Economic and Development Authority.
With this, Dominguez requested the DFA to “prepare the instrument of accession” subject to the recommended conditions.