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BOC, investment promotion agencies ink accord on enhanced trade facilitation

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has signed a cooperation agreement with investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in a bid to increase the overall efficiency of the trade environment in the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, the BOC said it entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA), on December 15, with the Strategic Trade Management Office (STMO), Authority of the Freeport of Area Bataan (AFAB), Clark Development Corporation (CDC), Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

“The partnership aims to establish an effective coordination and cooperation mechanism towards enhanced trade facilitation, optimize information sharing, boost the capability of front liners to identify strategic goods, and reduce the complexity of doing business of legitimate and compliant strategic goods exporters,” Customs said.

The BOC said the partnership with the agencies, headed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is in consonance with Republic Act No. 10697 or the Strategic Trade Management Act (STMA), which authorized the establishment of STMO to serve as the executive and technical agency of the national government for the establishment of the management systems for the trade in strategic goods.

“As part of the agreement, a Technical Working Group on Strategic Trade Facilitation (TWG-STF) was created comprising of the contracting parties for the purpose of establishing communication mechanisms and procedures, organize and implement Commodity Identification Training (CIT) for Frontline and Enforcement Officers and streamline documentary requirements with BOC and IPAs,” the Customs said.

A mandatory application for authorization from STMO is also being implemented, it said.

Authorization refers to a license issued by the STMO to any person who engages or intends to engage in the trade of strategic goods.

The bureau said authorization shall be requested prior to export as it shall form part of the shipment clearances and requirements of the BOC and IPAs as provided in the DTI Memorandum Circular No. 20-47, series of 2020.

“The BOC and IPAs shall be responsible for verifying the authenticity of the authorizations through the Quick Response (QR) Code system and or call or email to STMO designated lines,” the agency said.

“A reach-back mechanism shall also be established among the parties to monitor compliance with SMTA,” it said.

In case the item for export does not meet the minimum technical specifications in the National Strategic Goods List (NSGL) but are visually similar with the strategic items, the Non-Strategic Good Certificate (NSGC) is issued by the STMO to requesting parties, according to the BOC.

The BOC and/or IPAs shall ensure that all strategic goods have appropriate authorizations from the STMO prior to export, it said.

To ensure the continuous compliance of BOC and IPAs to authenticity verification, the STMO shall establish capacity building trainings/ programs for BOC and IPA personnel such as Commodity Identification Training, Risk Profiling and Targeting Training and such other trainings that will build and enhance the capacity of BOC and IPA personnel in the implementation of the STMA.

The BOC, in line with the agreement and as provided by Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act of 2016 (CMTA), is in charge of assessing and collecting customs revenues, curbing illicit trade and all forms of customs fraud, and facilitating trade, through an efficient and effective customs management system.

Furthermore, the Bureau of Customs’ Risk Management Office (BOC-RMO) shall be the responsible unit to perform centralized risk management and targeting for strategic goods shipments.

Meanwhile, the IPAs shall contribute to information-sharing and other efforts in harmonizing the risk management of strategic shipments. — Ted Cordero/BM, GMA News