DAVAO CITY — The Mindanao Barter Council (MBC) is finalizing the guidelines for the barter trade office, which will initially be established in the ports of Jolo, Sulu and Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro said the MBC has held various meetings to discuss the proposed rules and sort out technical matters.
“MBC will be responsible for coordinating and facilitating activities related to barter trading,” Mr. Montenegro said at the Habi at Kape forum this week.
The MBC is composed of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary as chairperson, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) commissioner as vice chairperson, the MinDA chair, and representatives from various agencies, including the Departments of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, DTI-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, and Philippine Ports Authority.
The MBC is tasked to supervise, coordinate, and harmonize policies, programs and activities concerning barter in the southern Philippines.
Among its functions are issuing regulations on the accreditation of qualified traders, including the imposition of registration fees and facilitation of all documentary requirements for them to avail of the zero-tariff benefits under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).
Mr. Montenegro said the barter trade offices will be in charge of monitoring what would become a formal buying and selling system.
“We have no way of knowing how much volume of goods will be coming in, how much in terms of value are they pumping in to the local economy because there had been no system in place as of the moment, and that is exactly the design of the barter trade office. Barter trade had been going on for several centuries but until today is informal,” he said.
“The Barter Trade Executive Order is to assist them to facilitate their gradual transition from informal trading to formal trading and mainstreaming them into our economic set-up because right now they are part of the shadow economy,” Mr. Montenegro added.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued Executive Order 64 on Oct. 29 to “strengthen trade and commerce between and among the member states of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).”
The EO provides that “Goods traded under the barter system shall enter Philippine territory only through barter ports established for the purpose. Products enjoying tariff protections and quantitative restrictions such as rice, corn, and sugar as well as products requiring special import permits and subject to standard requirements shall remain regulated by applicable laws, rules and regulations.”
Olie B. Dagala, director for MinDA’s investment promotion and public affairs office, said the agency is hopeful that the barter office will be operational by August. — Maya M. Padillo