THE Customs bureau has issued guidelines that would oversee the implementation of preferential tariffs on imported goods coming from member-countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio issued Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 12-2023 that outlined the guidelines on the issuance of proof of origin, granting of preferential tariff treatment and verification procedures under the RCEP agreement.
The CMO was dated May 26 but took effect last June 2, when the RCEP agreement entered into force in the Philippines.
The latest CMO emphasized that only imported goods originating from the 15 member-countries of the RCEP agreement are eligible to claim the preferential tariff rates.
Vital to the claiming of preferential tariff rates is the securing of a certificate of origin that would certify that the imported goods indeed came from the RCEP signatory-country.
“As part of the RCEP agreement, certificates of origin have been mandated to accompany goods as they are transported between member countries. This official document attests to the country of origin of the goods, allowing customs authorities, importers, and exporters to monitor the movement of goods within the RCEP trading bloc,” read a statement issued last Sunday by the BOC.
The Customs bureau explained that to qualify for the RCEP tariff rates, importers must obtain this certification along with a declaration of origin from exporters who have been authorized by the Philippines, as specified by the BOC.
The BOC has instructed its Export Coordination Division (ECD) “to scrutinize all submitted certificates of origin and applications for Approved Exporter status.”
The agency added the ECD shall carry out verifications of the originating status of the goods upon request of the RCEP-importing party or based on risk analysis criteria.
“Verification can be made based on documents requested from the exporter or producer or by inspections at the exporter’s or producer’s premises,” the CMO read.
The bureau emphasized that the final determination on the rate of duty shall be based on the assessment of the submitted documents from the importers.
On the other hand, exporters are required to submit an application with the ECD for the issuance of a certification of origin for RCEP, the BOC added.
“The application should include the necessary supporting documents, such as an export declaration, commercial invoice, bill of lading/airway bill, and other relevant permits,” it said.
The goal of the RCEP is to eliminate tariffs on a minimum of 90 percent of the commodities traded between member countries, while also strengthening regulations for non-tariff measures, according to the BOC. The BOC noted that within the trade agreement the Philippines retained its existing preferential tariff rates for 98.1 percent of the 1,718 agricultural tariff lines, as well as for 82.7 percent of the 8,102 industrial tariff lines.
Out of the 1,685 agricultural tariff lines that are being preserved at present rates, 1,426 will be maintained at a zero rate, while 154 will continue to be charged at their existing most favored nation rates, and will therefore not be included in any form of tariff concessions, according to the BOC.
“In cases where the RCEP preferential tariff rate is higher than the applied rate at the time of importation, the importer shall be allowed to apply for a refund of any excess duties and taxes paid for originating goods,” BOC said.