ONLINE trade platform TradeNet moved closer to launch with the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) by the lead agencies, the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said in a statement on Tuesday that the MoA was signed by Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno and Information and Communications Secretary Ivan John E. Uy on Feb. 6.

The MoA paves the way for the full onboarding of the 73 government agencies with regulatory oversight over imports and exports.

ARTA is involved in onboarding the so-called Trade Regulatory Government Agencies (TRGAs) by virtue of its mandate under Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act.

“The agreement specifically defines the DoF as responsible for the overall coordination, facilitation, and onboarding of the TRGA to the TradeNet System. Meanwhile, the DICT will operate, maintain, acquire, and modify the technological design and architecture of the TradeNet,” ARTA said.

The signing facilitates the development and sustainability of the TradeNet system as the national single window platform that automates and integrates the licensing, permitting, clearance and certification system for trade goods.

TradeNet will also help ensure seamless trade with the rest of Southeast Asia, serving as the official government portal for the digital exchange of import and export data linked to the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations Single Window System.

“The MoA has been pending for three years due to several revisions in the agreement. However, in November 2022, TradeNet’s implementation gained headway after ARTA convened the agencies and earned their commitment on the individual and joint responsibilities relevant to the platform,” the ARTA said.

ARTA Director-General Ernesto V. Perez said there is a need to address high costs and long processing times in the Philippines to attract more foreign investment.

“We can look at TradeNet as another tool that can help us to curb over-regulation and high transaction costs with the government as it addresses the demand for efficiency by the public to transact with the government,” Mr. Perez said.

In January, the Office of the President called TradeNet one of the government’s priority digitalization programs for 2023.

Meanwhile, the ARTA said that the MoA also gives the go-ahead for the DoF to continue the onboarding of 18 priority TRGAs.

These are the Bureau of Plant Industry, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, Bureau of Quarantine, Export Marketing Bureau of the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Meat Inspection Service, the Philippine Coconut Authority, and the Philippine National Police Civil Security Group’s Firearms and Explosive Office;

The Sugar Regulatory Administration, Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Forest Management Bureau, the Office of Protocol, and the Board of Investments. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave