PH signing of ATA Convention seen to enhance market entry of exporters, temporary movement of goods

Entrepreneurs and exporters wanting to access more markets through trade shows will save time and money once the whole process of accession to the ATA Convention is completed, according to two of the biggest business organizations in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed on June 23, 2020 the Instrument of Accession to the Customs Convention on ATA Carnet for the Temporary Admission of Goods, also known as the ATA Convention or Istanbul Convention.

Following the presidential signing, concurrence by at least two-thirds of Senate members is required. The Convention shall enter into force three months after the Philippines deposits the Instrument of Accession.

This brings the country closer to becoming part of the ATA Carnet community which has some 80 contracting parties to the Convention that provides international guarantee to the Carnet system.

Philippine accession to the Convention has long been advocated by the Export Development Council (EDC) and business organizations such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT).

They said it will help facilitate foreign market access for exporters, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), by enabling local products to move freely across borders and be temporarily admitted to customs territories with relief from duties and taxes, especially for the purpose of trade show participation.

“We are thankful that finally, the Instrument of Accession has been signed, giving another positive signal to the world that we are serious in expanding our trade, particularly exports,” said Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., EDC vice chairman and PHILEXPORT president.

“With the ATA Carnet, there will be savings in time and money in the temporary movement of goods consistent with our thrust to ease doing business in the country,” Ortiz-Luis added.

The ATA Carnet is particularly beneficial for MSMEs interested to export and join overseas trade shows and exhibitions but baulk at the high cost of import duties and taxes.

The PCCI meanwhile said the carnet system is also beneficial to other businessmen and investors.

PCCI President Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico explained, “If you are travelling abroad for an exhibition or a trade fair, or even to shoot a movie and you are taking professional equipment with you, you have to pay an import duty or tax. That is beside the hassle of being stopped by Customs officials of your country of destination, filling out and providing several forms and documents, and going beyond your intended budget for the project. The whole process would be time consuming and potentially costly. But if you have a Carnet and you enter a country which is part of the system, bringing equipment or goods in and out is a breeze.”

The Department of Trade and Industry earlier explained that implementing the system “will enable local entrepreneurs, especially the MSMEs, to participate in trade exhibits, fairs and shows overseas without paying duties and taxes.”

At the same time, the Carnet system 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.

Further, it is also seen to benefit the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector of tourism.

Also known as “Merchandise Passport” or “Passport for Goods,” the ATA (for Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet is an international customs document permitting the duty-free and tax-free temporary export and import of goods for up to one year.

Covered goods include commercial samples, professional equipment, and goods and articles for presentation or use in trade fairs and exhibitions.

More than 185,000 ATA Carnets were issued in 2017 on goods valued at US$26 billion, according to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), whose World Chambers Federation administers the ATA system.

ICC said that with the ATA Carnet, salesmen, exhibitors, and other business travellers can make advance customs arrangements at a predetermined cost, visit several countries, use the ATA Carnet for several trips during its one-year validity, and return to their home country with their goods without problems or delays.

The acronym ATA is a combination of French and English terms “Admission Temporaire” or “Temporary Admission”.

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