THE European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is lobbying the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to simplify requirements that its members say make it “difficult” to import goods.
ECCP Vice President Helen Grace G. Baisa told reporters on the sidelines of a forum last week in Makati City that traders need to renew meeting these requirements on an annual basis.
“In the last couple of months, we requested the BoC to simplify [the requirements] or perhaps to actually make [certificates’] validity longer because it’s difficult [to address],” added Baisa, who is also president and managing director of food importer and manufacturer Charmant Ingredients Corp.
The ECCP official underscored that what members of the bilateral foreign chamber need is “simplification” of laws.
“For so many years, there has been this misalignment when it comes to the interpretations of the laws,” Baisa said.
When it comes to importation, she pointed to Customs Memorandum Circular (CMC) 54-2014 that, according to her, the chamber relies on.
“Sometimes or most of the time, a lot of customs inspectors…they are asking way, way more documents. So it’s okay if the importing party is basically new and has like a red flag but sometimes wala e [there’s none].”
The CMC 54-2014 is a matrix of appropriate requirements on the release of products under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The circular includes the list of requirements for importers to comply with before the BOC releases the goods to importers.
Apart from streamlining requirements for importers, Baisa also underscored that the ECCP has also been pushing for the “National Single Window” (NSW).
For the longest time, the ECCP has really actually pushed for the implementation of the NSW, she added.
The BOC defines the NSW as “a web-based platform that allows parties involved in trade and transport to store standardized information in a secure, electronic platform to fulfill import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements.”
The BoC website added the bureau has partnered with the US Mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) “to provide greater understanding of what exactly the NSW is and how,” in combination with the “Asean Single Window” (ASW) regional platform, “it enhances and streamlines” trading operations within the Asean Region as well as throughout the world.
One of the advocacy recommendations of the ECCP is to expedite the operationalization of the NSW and pursue its integration with the ASW.
Based on a ECCP advocacy paper that the chamber released last May, the operationalization of the NSW will help “enhance communication between government agencies, combat smuggling and corruption and facilitate smoother flow of domestic and international trade in the country.”
Moreover, the “2023 ECCP Advocacy Paper” noted that the establishment of the NSW will allow the country to “maximize” the benefits of being a member of the Asean by utilizing the ASW.
“Given all these benefits, the ECCP urgently calls for the integration with the ASW and the full and expedited operationalization of the NSW in all government agencies,” the 45-year-old foreign chamber of more than 700 members said.