E-commerce boosts trade facilitation

The country has been negotiating e-commerce in free trade agreements (FTAs) as it contributes greatly to trade facilitation, according to a policy brief published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Bureau of Trade and Industrial Policy Research (BTIPR).

“(This is) through paperless trading wherein electronic trade documents are accepted as the equivalent of physical/paper trade documents. The use of information and communications technology enhances customs control and the exchange of electronic trade documents between economies,” said the paper prepared by Director Maria Lourdes Yaptinchay of BTIPR, and Philippine Lead Negotiator for E-Commerce.

The policy brief pointed out that Single Window Systems provide a cost-effective and efficient customs operation, but there are a “lot of challenges” in implementing a national single window system, more so with regional single windows.

“Trade facilitation is high in the agenda of bilateral, regional and even multilateral discussions,” it said.

The paper said the issue of customs duties on electronic transmissions is another matter.

“An efficient logistics system is important for e-commerce to thrive. The increase in the volume of small parcel deliveries similarly posed a challenge to logistics providers domestically and across borders, and this is more apparent in archipelagic countries,” it added.

Apart from facilitating cross-border e-commerce, negotiating it in FTAs aims to build trust and confidence in e-commerce, and deepen cooperation on e-commerce between and among participating economies.

“With the assurance that the enabling law and appropriate safeguards are in place, economies will be more confident in engaging in cross-border e-commerce with their trading partners. Allowing or not preventing information to flow across borders through electronic means is fundamental,” the paper stressed.

The Philippines has signed the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce and negotiations are ongoing for the e-commerce chapters in Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA), plus the prospect that new trade agreements can include e-commerce.

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