THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) hopes to complete revisions to the freight forwarding rules for seaborne cargo this year, which will feature a streamlined accreditation process.

On the sidelines of the public consultation for the proposed department administrative order (DAO) on Wednesday, Assistant Trade Secretary Mary Jean T. Pacheco said that the new rules will facilitate compliance with the Ease of Doing Business law.

“The DTI is committed to replace and streamline the guidelines on sea freight forwarding and make it faster and easier for new and renewing freight forwarders applicants in securing accreditation,” Ms. Pacheco said. 

“Under the DAO, we want to really minimize the requirements and decrease the accreditation process time,” she added.

She added that the revisions could be completed within the year and be implemented next year.

“Assuming publication this year, it will still take 15 days to be effective,” she said.

She said that once the DAO is implemented, the documentary requirements for freight forwarders will be reduced to five from 22 previously.

The DAO is also expected to fast-track the accreditation process for freight forwarders by reducing the processing time to one day from three.

Ms. Pacheco said that the processing time could be further reduced once the Harmonized Online Freight Forwarding Accreditation (HOFFA) with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) is created.

The HOFFA system aims to create a unified application form and a single digital system for the accreditation of sea and air freight forwarders. 

“We are already preparing for this with the CAB; this is also why we need to implement the DAO so that we can bridge it into that system,” she said.

Under the new rules, the freight forwarders’ paid-up capital and partner’s contribution or equity have all been raised for all the three categories. 

Once the DAO is implemented, the paid-up capital for non-vessel operating common carriers will become P5 million (from P4 million), P3 million (from P2 million) for international freight forwarders, and P1 million (from P250,000) for domestic freight forwarders.

Ms. Pacheco said that the increase is in line with the objective of the DAO which is to make the sea freight forwarders more professional.

“We are also trying to avoid the fly-by-night sea freight forwarders who have been complained about by clients,” she added.

According to the DTI, there are almost 800 freight forwarding firms for seaborne cargo. — Justine Irish D. Tabile