THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said it is hoping to make its economic zone offering more attractive to locators by offering seamless trade facilitation and upgraded logistics.

Tereso O. Panga, PEZA officer-in-charge and deputy director general for policy and planning, said he met with Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon L. Ruiz on Sept. 16 to smooth out the supply chain for PEZA companies.  

“PEZA is one with the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and other participants in the local supply and global value chains in enhancing the ecozone business ecosystem and our overall competitiveness to make the Philippines a viable investment destination in the region,” Mr. Panga said.

PEZA could end up losing registered companies to the Board of Investments (BoI), an offshoot of the row that broke out between the government and the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. The BPOs are seeking more freedom to offer their workers work-from-home arrangements, but risk losing access to tax incentives because tax laws require locators to perform much of their work within the ecozones.

The initiative to improve trade facilitation appears to indicate a renewed focus on manufacturers who need to move goods across borders, as opposed to services companies like BPOs.

“It is important to strengthen partnership between PEZA and BoC given their respective roles in investment and trade facilitation that are being improved towards digital transformation,” Mr. Panga said.

Mr. Panga said PEZA and the BoC discussed the concerns of registered enterprises including the use of single general transport surety bonds for ecozone imports and interzone transfer of goods between PEZA-registered enterprises, and the use of risk-based shipment inspections and electronic tracking of containerized cargo.

The two agencies also discussed the integration of the PEZA’s electronic import permit system and automated export documentation system with the BoC’s electronic-to-mobile system for improved security and transparency in the processing and monitoring of import and export permits and documents. They also agreed to collaborate in clarifying the basis of computing tax and duties on the disposal of enterprise assets under Republic Act No. 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Law.

According to Mr. Panga, PEZA rolled out its online payment system and launched other office automation projects to improve the delivery of services and customer experience.

“All these will contribute to higher productivity, reliability, availability, increased performance, and reduced operating costs to the benefit of our valued ecozone investors and other stakeholders,” Mr. Panga said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave