BY DIANE CLAIRE J. JIAO, Senior Reporter

Customs agreements eyed

Posted on September 10, 2012

THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) is eyeing customs agreements with three new countries in order to facilitate trade and international cooperation.

THE BUREAU of Customs is looking to forge partnerships with Russia, Chile and Peru to facilitate international trade and cooperation. -- BW PHOTO
"There has been an offer from Russia. We are also holding exploratory talks with Chile and Peru," Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon told BusinessWorld last week.

While there is no strict time line for the negotiations, Mr. Biazon expects to conclude and ink the deal with Russia by next month.

"These partnerships will really help us in enforcing the law. They will also give us a standard that we can move towards in terms of customs administration," he said.

Under the agreements, the Philippines and its partner country will be able to share intelligence on smugglers, he explained.

The signatories will also be able to exchange valuation data -- benchmark monetary values assigned to goods imported into the country, used as the basis for the computation of duties and taxes.

Lastly, the Philippines and its partner will be able to cooperate in the prosecution of cases involving each country, he said.

Just last month, the Philippines signed an Agreement on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Customs Matters with Mexico. It also has customs agreements with the United States and the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Other than these partnerships, the bureau also has initiatives to boost international cooperation for trade facilitation: mainly the National Single Window (NSW) and its counterpart in the ASEAN.

The NSW -- slated for launch this year -- is an electronic facility that allows importers and exporters to process the clearance of their shipments online. It also enables them to secure permits from multiple government agencies in one integrated process.

In turn, the NSW will be connected to the ASEAN Single Window, which will track regional trade so that an export cleared in one country will automatically be documented as an import in another.

Mr. Biazon said he hopes this increased efficiency can translate into a pick-up in revenue collections for the bureau.

The BoC is the government’s second-largest revenue-collection agency. It accounts for a fifth of government revenues and this year, it is tasked to net P347.1 billion. As of July, the BoC already raked in P167.816 billion.