PH joins move for ASEAN-wide Self-Certification Scheme

By Kris Crismundo

August 31, 2018, 7:38 pm

MANILA -- The Philippines, along with the nine member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are on their way towards the realization of an ASEAN-wide Self-Certification Scheme (AWSC).

During the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting in Singapore from August 29 to September 1, trade chiefs of the 10 ASEAN member states signed the First Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).

The protocol aims to increase the utilization of free trade agreement (FTA) among member nations by streamlining procedures. The AWSC allows exporters to apply for Certified Exporter (CE) status for them to ship goods within ASEAN at preferential tariff rates under ATIGA.

This is ultimately aimed at cutting bureacracy within ASEAN, as the current system requires for the application for Certificate of Origin (CO) Form D for every shipment. The current regime must also be applied manually and only during office hours.

“The AWSC will minimize burdens associated with administrative compliance and decrease transaction costs. Overall, the scheme is expected to improve the ease of doing business, thereby making it easier for the Philippine companies to use the preferential tariff treatment under the ATIGA,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

“This will be good for businesses, especially our micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). It will make it easier for them to use the FTA, as well as enjoy zero tariffs when they sell to other ASEAN countries,” Lopez added.

ASEAN will roll out the AWSC by the first semester of 2019.

Lopez said the DTI, along with the Bureau of Customs and Tariff Commission, will be promoting the use of AWSC in the country to maximize this development made by the AEM. “We have this FTA in place and we want our exporters to maximize its use. It will help make our MSMEs more competitive in the global market,” Lopez said.

Philippine Statistics Authority Data showed that Philippine exports to ASEAN in the first half of the year grew by 5.5 percent to USD5.16 billion from USD4.89 billion in the same period in 2017. (PNA)