PEDP 2018-2022 Stakeholders Engagement Series takes off in General Santos City

The Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) and the Export Development Council (EDC) will hold a series of Stakeholders Engagements on the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2018-2022 in Regions. It aims to present the PEDP 2018-2022 and solicit commitments among stakeholders to implement the Plan. The first Stakeholders Engagement was conducted in General Santos City and Koronadal City for Region 12 last July 25-26, 2018.

Government agencies in Region 12 agreed on reported programs to align to the PEDP 2018-2022 Strategies. The agencies are committed on implementing the strategies as well as developing new programs that will help increase their region’s exports.

The Stakeholders Engagements will also serve as a venue to ensure an efficient, responsive and well-coordinated strategies among the concerned government agencies and entities that are directed to collectively work, review, institute reforms, and implement all relevant policies in harmony with the PEDP, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Development Plan and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) to boost export growth.

The succeeding Stakeholders Engagements will be held in NCR and Region IV-B on August 15; Regions IV-A on August 31; Region VIII on September 5; Region X on September  7; Region XI on September 11; Region III on September 19; and Region VII on September 27.

Bureau of Customs to form multi-agency unit to address port issues

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña announced that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will create a multi-agency body composed of government agencies and port stakeholders and users that will address issues hounding the private sector.

Various stakeholders discussed the recommendations and action plans for the implementation of the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS), the Anti-overloading Act, port congestion, turnaround time of trucks, return of empty containers, and issues with international shipping lines.

On TABS, the web-based booking platform for trucks at Manila International Container Port and Port of Manila, port users to extend the early arrival margin to three hours, and improve the system to promote transparency.

On Anti-overloading, stakeholders recommended the extension of moratorium period of 6 months on the implementation of the maximum Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) for Code 12-2 and Code 12-3. The stakeholders views that the law is inconsistent and not implemented properly because of redundancy of weighing exercises. It was proposed that there should be a mandatory weighing of laden containers prior to exit from the yards. Meanwhile, for long term solution, stakeholders recommend the amendment of the law’s implementing rules and regulations to increase the maximum allowable GVW.

On port congestion, multi-sectoral body is proposed to determine and declare any port congestion. Also, for overstaying of empty containers, stakeholders recommended to shorten the allowable stay of empties from 90 days to 60 days.

Other important recommendations are the following: (1) International Shipping Lines to put up or lease their own depots outside Metro Manila; (2) PEZA to possibly dedicate a space and designate a facility for the empty containers near to them; (3) International Shipping Lines to remove the unwarranted charges by specifying absolute container depot fees when returning empty containers; (4) BOC to initiate the implementation of rules and regulations to regulate the shipping lines.

To address the high cost of origin and destination charges of international shipping lines, the Export Development Council (EDC) together with other stakeholders endorsed a draft bill entitled “An act establishing guidelines for the application of local charges (origin and destination fees) imposed by international shipping lines to comply with existing laws and international standards (INCOTERMS)” to the House of Representatives Committee on Economic Affairs.

Economic Development Cluster endorses PEDP 2018-2022 for approval of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

The Economic Development Cluster, in its meeting last 14 June 2018, strongly supported and endorsed the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2018-2022 for approval of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Chair of the Export Development Council (EDC) eyes the approval of the PEDP 2018-2022 soon.

The PEDP 2018-2022 is a five-year roadmap that identifies three strategies and action plans to reach the country’s export targets of US$ 122 Billion in 2022.

The first strategy dwells on the government’s goal of improving the overall climate for export development through removal of unnecessary regulatory impediments, enhancement of trade facilitation, improved access to trade finance and export competitiveness.

The second strategy will exploit existing and prospective opportunities from trading arrangements. DTI has programs that aim to increase awareness on various opportunities offered by free trade agreements that the Philippines currently enjoys. In the new PEDP, the strategy proposed a dedicated program like DTI’s Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA) to strengthen promotion efforts to prospective and existing exporters.

Lastly, the plan proposes the crafting of comprehensive packages to promote select products and services for export.

PHILEXPORT- Cebu now endorses Travel Tax Exemption applications

The PHILEXPORT-Cebu Chapter can now endorse applications of its members for travel tax exemption.   The Technical Working Group on EO 589 Exempting Exporters for Travel Tax Exemption (TTE) recently approved the request of PHILEXPORT-National for the additional signatories from PHILEXPORT- Cebu. This is to facilitate the release of TTE certificate by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). PHILEXPORT-Cebu may now endorse TTE applications directly to the Export Development Council which monitors and oversees the implementation of the Executive Order.

Under EO 589, exporters who will travel abroad to participate in international trade fairs  and exhibitions are entitled to TTE.

Exporters in Cebu may contact PHILEXPORT-Cebu at telephone numbers (032)254.4333/ 254.9266/254.433 or email at info@philexportcebu.org

Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018 seen to shorten government processes

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) and Efficient Government Service Delivery (EGSD) Act of 2018. The new law will shorten the number of days in processing permits and licenses of all business-related transactions in the Philippines.

Signed on May 28, Republic Act (RA) No. 11032 also includes stricter rules like the two-strike policy that any violation will warrant penalties and liabilities for government officials who fail to issue permits in the given period.

The provisions of the law were highlighted in the 6th Annual Ease of Doing Business Summit recently held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

RA 11032 amends Republic Act No. 9485, otherwise known as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.

Under this Act, businesses can expect streamlined processes; reduced processing times from all government agencies, including government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs). Government agencies shall be made to comply with the prescribed processing time: three working days for simple transactions, seven working days for complex transactions, and 20 working days for highly technical transactions.

Apart from streamlining, the law also provides for the creation of a central business portal that will receive and capture application data on business-related transactions, while a Philippine business databank will provide LGUs and national government agencies access to information to verify the validity and existence of businesses. With this, businesses are not required to submit the same documentary requirement previously submitted

Regulatory agencies must apply Regulatory Impact Assessment – World Bank, Malacanang

It is therefore necessary for regulatory agencies to undertake the RIA process which involves problem definition, setting the objectives, identifying options (from doing nothing or status quo to other options), impact analysis (cost-benefit analysis), comparing options, and implementation and monitoring.

World Bank strongly suggests that regulatory agencies must subject any proposed regulation to the regulatory impact assessment (RIA), a tool that ensures the quality of regulations through a rigorous, well-defined and evidence-based analysis.

RIA is a process and a document to “clean” the rules particularly those involving high regulatory risks that reduce investment and competition; high transaction costs due to a complex, multi-layered, often arbitrary rules that are vulnerable to corruption; too little market regulation, poor enforcement, and under-institutionalization in policy areas as consumer and environmental protection; and checks and balances, such as  an effective judiciary which are weak, harming new entrants.

In a recent training on RIA, World Bank emphasizes that a good regulation should be  focused on policy problem,  introduced when necessary and proportionate to the risk posed by the policy problem, accountable  to those affected by  the regulation and those who confer regulatory authority, transparent  or consultation based, and consistent,  taking into account existing rules and regulations.

Corollary to this, the Office of the President issued Memorandum No. 27, series of 2017 which, directs among others, the NEDA to promote among regulatory agencies the use of RIA and other related tools.  In Turn, NEDA now implements the Program on Modernizing Government Regulations (MGR) in cooperation with the Development Academy of the Philippines.

PPA approves 7% rate hike for cargo handling at Manila Ports

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) issued Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 07-2018 that approves the 7% increase of cargo handling tariff for international containerized and non-containerized cargoes at the two international terminals in Manila. The new rate takes effect on June 5, 2018.

PPA’s approved rate is lower than the 8.7% hike requested by the terminal operators, Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI), which operates the Manila South Harbor, and the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), which operates at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT).

Under their contracts with PPA, both terminal operators may file for a rate hike every two years. The last cargo-handling tariff rate adjustment was in 2015, when PPA granted an 8% rate increase. Their petitions are in keeping with PPA Administrative Order 02-2018 which prescribes the revised methodology and formula for adjustment of Cargo Handling Tariff.

Prior to the approval of the rate adjustment, the Export Development Council (EDC) expressed its opposition to the original 8.72% request using the Consumer Price Index (All Items) National Capital Region. The CPI (All items) Philippines shall be the factor of adjustment as provided in Section 7 of PPA AO 02-2018. If applied, the rate hike should have been 6.52%.

Hence, for loaded Container Yard/Full Container Load is charged at US$ 105.457 for 20 ft container and US$ 147.517 for 40 ft. container. Empty Container is charged at US$ 88.646 for 20ft and US$ 114.203 for 40ft. Schedule of Cargo Handling Tariff at Manila International Container Terminal and South Harbor can be downloaded at PPA website at  www.ppa.com.ph

Government leads Philippine Halal industry promotion

Government efforts for the development and promotion of Philippine Halal Industry are underway to tap the rising demand on Halal products and services. The halal food industry is estimated to reach 3 trillion in 2021 that can be tapped by the Philippines.

This trend provides strong but challenging opportunities for the Philippines. In 2017, the Philippines only captured P5.52 billion on revenues from halal products or 8.73% of the country’s total exports valued at P63.23 billion.

To seize the opportunities on halal markets, the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board is working vigorously on the development of Philippine Halal industry.

The Halal Board, composed of several government agencies such as the Departments of Trade, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Health, Science and Technology, is tasked by Republic Act 10817 or the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2016, to “formulate, advocate, coordinate, oversee and assess the implementation of the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Program”.

Recently, the Halal Board launched the Philippine National Halal Certification Scheme and the Accreditation Guidelines at the 1st Philippine National Halal Conference in Davao City. The National Halal Certification scheme will serve as guiding principles in accrediting halal certifiers and enable Philippine products to be accepted as halal players in global halal ecosystem.

For its part, the Department of Agriculture formulated standards for slaughtering that must be followed by halal producers. These are standards for Feeds, Agriculture and Fishery Products, Slaughtering Practice for Ruminants and Slaughtering Practice for Poultry. An accepted standard across the whole halal value chain must be in place to meet the requirements of halal markets.

“Awareness campaign is also being done to encourage exporters to improve their products to be competitive and penetrate the global Halal market”, Halal Board Chair and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the Halal Conference. He also enjoined the academe to include halal in its curriculum and promote research and development on halal to comply with international requirements.

Halal industry can be developed beyond food particularly in tourism, pharmaceutical, travel, modest fashion and cosmetics.

Exporters laud BOC move to discontinue reprocessing of export shipments in NAIA

Exporters who are shipping out their goods through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) lauded the Bureau of Customs – NAIA decision to discontinue the reprocessing or recording of shipments approved at the One-Stop Export Documentation Center (OSEDC). A memorandum order shall be issued by the BOC – NAIA to this effect.

In February 2018, the Export Division of NAIA issued a directive that “all shipments processed at OSEDC must be re-processed at the Bureau of Customs Export Division’s Documentation Unit”.

In a meeting among the BOC-NAIA, Export Development Council (EDC) and Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT), NAIA District Collector Carmelita Talusan clarified that the directive was aimed to record, monitor and collect data of all shipments that are coming out of NAIA, not to reprocess such shipments.

To serve the BOC purpose, OSEDC will send the summary of shipments approved by the OSEDC to BOC-NAIA on a daily basis.

Collector Talusan also bid to work on facilitating trade as one of the thrusts of the BOC, aside from revenue generation and border security. The BOC-NAIA is also working on the implementation of the electronic-to-mobile (e2m) system to further streamline the processes for NAIA shipments. The private sector is encouraged by the BOC-NAIA to be a partner in such endeavor. – Asnia R. Bayabao

DOLE to soften implementation of “ENDO” labor policies to MSMEs

“The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall implement Philippine labor policies to all businesses including MSMEs”, said Assistant Secretary Alex Avila at the 2nd Quarter General Membership Meeting of the PHILEXPORT. He informed that the agency is now looking into a “soft approach” to the “endo” by conducting constructive engagement with social partners on the voluntary regularization plan of companies. More importantly, DOLE will look into the developmental approach to existing labor inspection policy in the country. He assured that companies need not worry during inspections as the DOLE is willing to teach them the proper way to comply with the labor policies.

DOLE’s “soft approach” to the “endo” regime can be seen on how the agency had dealt with Jolibee. DOLE considered that the thousands of employees in Jolibee were actually lawful contractual workers and ordered their regularization. Jolibee has opted to the voluntary regularization plan.

DOLE Department Order Nos. 174 and 183, s. 2017 prohibit labor-only contracting, regulate lawful contractual arrangements, and include workers in the inspection of compliance with labor standards and laws. This move will ensure that there will be no “555” which refers to the practice of firing contractual employees after five months. It will also eliminate the practice of “cabo” or persons/entities that, under the guise of labor organization, cooperative or any entity, supply workers to employers and contracting out of job or work through an in-house agency, etc. As such, this will put an end to all illegal forms of contractualization and other forms of illegal labor practices.

On the other hand, employers expect an increase in the cost of labor amid the government’s move to regularize more workers. Thus, absorbing and regularizing the employees would come at a cost to enterprises. However, it will be offset by better productivity by the workers. – Grace T. Mirasol