Quality Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) to enhance the Philippine trade environment

A forum on “Moving Towards Quality Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) was conducted to advance the goal of quality NTMs in the country, its relevance, and issues stemming from it. It aims to provide updates on measures taken by the government arising from the results of the business survey on NTMs conducted by the International Trade Center (ITC) in 2016, collaborate with key private sector stakeholders on moving towards quality NTMs noting current industry accounts on trade facilitation. In addition, it also aims to foster knowledge and experience sharing among different government agencies that carry out NTMs and its formulation and implementation. Finally, to review the current governance and set gears for an inter-agency collaboration on NTMs.

Export Marketing Bureau’s Assistant Director Agnes Legaspi provided the updates on International Trade Center’s 2016 Philippine NTM Survey. According to her, the report showed that NTMs relating to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures or technical barriers to trade (TBT) issues are the most in number, followed by the rules of origin and customs clearances. The others are burdensome technical measures faced by Filipino exporters such as fumigation requirements, labeling requirements, product certification, and other export requirements. Dr. Thomas G. Aquino’s point of view supports the aforementioned issues, stating that prevalent challenges such as changes in trade practices add up to the difficulties in compliance of the industries to existing legitimate NTMs, thus causing hurdles to businesses. In addition, other issues on NTMs, specifically for chemicals are deemed to be disguised as TBTs.

In order to address the aforementioned issues, and the goal of having quality NTMs for the country, government agencies are carrying out their respective NTM procedures and processes to ease the burden of the exporters as:
a) Tariff Commission (TC) recommended that their agency can collaborate with the University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, Inc. (UPPAF) Regulatory Reform Support Program for National  Development (RESPOND) to improve transparency, accessibility, cooperation, and technical training on quality NTMs through issuance of reports on findings and recommendations for prioritized reforms, and constructing a national registry on NTMs. They also plan on strengthening the role of TC in NTMs policy making by institutionalizing it.

b) Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) will strengthen their role as the country’s National Enquiry Point (NEP) and National Notification Authority (NNA) for World Trade Organization – Technical Barriers to Trade(WTO-TBT). As NEP, their role includes collating TBT Notifications to be routed to relevant stakeholders, and as NNA, to notify the WTO on the technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures from the different government agencies.

c) Department of Health – Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA) will be implementing their License to Operate (LTO) and Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) in a much shorter time (20 days) as prescribed by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act.

This forum was organized by the UPPAF in collaboration with Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. PHILEXPORT), Tariff Commission (TC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Export Development Council (EDC). –KJDA

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