Law creating body to streamline PH customs procedures signed

By Azer Parrocha

May 20, 2021, 3:55 pm

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order creating a body to streamline and improve customs procedures in the country.

Executive Order 136, signed by Duterte on Tuesday, creates the Philippine Trade Facilitation Committee (PTFC) chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF), with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as co-chair and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as vice-chair.

Its members include the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Tariff Commission, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), DTI-Bureau of International Trade Relations, DTI-Bureau of Import Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

Duterte signed the EO in compliance with the World Trade Organization-Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO-TFA) which was entered into force for the Philippines on February 22, 2017.

The WTO-TFA mandates that each member-state shall establish and/or maintain a national committee on trade facilitation or designate an existing mechanism to facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of the agreement.

"To faithfully comply with our commitments under the WTO-TFA, there is a need to establish a body which would streamline and improve customs procedures and facilitate the implementation of rational, efficient, and simple customs rules which will reduce the cost of trade transactions, and enable micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises to participate more actively in international trade," the EO read.

Under the EO, the PTFC will be tasked to study, propose, and coordinate the position, activities, or actions of the Philippine government on matters pertaining to the implementation of the WTO-TFA and other trade facilitation commitments.

It will also propose to the NEDA Board Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) trade regulations, measures, and practices, which are consistent with the objectives of the WTO-TFA and other trade facilitation commitments, to expedite movement, release, and clearance of goods.

The body will also be tasked to undertake outreach, advocacy, capacity-building, and studies among its members and stakeholders to increase awareness of the best practices and benefits of trade facilitation.

In coordination with the Anti-Red Tape Authority, the body will also ensure compliance with Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 in relation to trade facilitation.

The PTFC may also prescribe internal rules and guidelines in the performance of its duties and functions and for the conduct of its affairs.

As for funding, it will be charged against the current appropriations of the member-agencies of the PTFC. The budgetary requirements for the succeeding years shall be incorporated in the annual budget proposals of the member-agencies. (PNA)