Rice, tobacco, other traders to benefit from DOF’s TradeNet
TradeNet.gov.ph, the government’s online trade facilitation platform, aims to minimize the costs of doing business and, cut the processing time for import and export permits for rice and six other commonly traded goods that represent half of the Philippines’ total trade volume when it rolls out by December this year.
According to Department of Finance (DOF) Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil Beltran, TradeNet.gov.ph will also perform the functions of the country’s National Single Window (NSW) allowing traders to use the system to apply for import and export permits for rice, sugar, used motor vehicles, chemicals (toluene), frozen meat medicines (for humans, animals or fish) and cured tobacco.
By December the NSW is projected to be interconnected with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Single Window, a regional initiative that aims to speed up cargo clearances and promote economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border documents among the organization’s 10 member-states.
Beltran stated in his report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, at a recent DOF Executive Committee (Execom) meeting that the first stage of the trade platform “will allow traders to use the system for the first seven commodities that represent fifty percent of the total trade volume of the Philippines.”
“…the first seven commodities that represent fifty percent of the total trade volume of the Philippines.”
Beltran said at the Execom meeting that 16 agencies involved in the processing of permits for the import and export of these first seven commodities will have to be connected online to TradeNet by December.
These include the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), National Tobacco Administration (NTA), Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau (FTEB), National Food Authority (NFA), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC).
He said other goods will also be progressively placed onboard the TradeNet as more regulatory agencies involved in trade facilitation adopt the system.
Earlier, Beltran said the NSW Steering Committee chaired by the DOF secretary has agreed to adopt TradeNet as the vehicle for the country’s NSW, which aims to facilitate trade, heighten transparency in customs procedures and improve revenue collection.
Beltran said the NSW Steering Committee met last Aug. 30 at the Ayuntamiento building of the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) to discuss the implementation of the Philippines’ single window, along with related measures to facilitate trade and improve the ease of doing business.
Besides the DOF secretary, the other members of the NSW Steering Committee are the secretaries of the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI), Agriculture (DA), Transportation (DOTR), Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Health (DOH); the governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
In a report to Dominguez, Beltran said the members of the steering committee also agreed to “streamline and automate processes their respective processes “to minimize costs of doing business and enhance the country’s competitiveness.”
The NSW Steering Committee is part of the NSW Task Force for Cargo Clearance created via Executive Order EO No. 482 issued in 2005.
The NSW Task Force consists of the Steering Committee and a Technical Working Group (TWG) headed by the Customs Commissioner.
Beltran, who was designated by Dominguez to chair and preside over the NSW panel, added,
“The steering committee handles the NSW and aims at facilitating trade transactions. We want, as much as possible, to reduce processing time, cut transaction costs and enhance competitiveness. The NSW is one of the most important reforms in government.”
“We are all performing important functions that will impact our [country’s] capability to generate investments. This is the reason why NSW was created.”
As the vehicle for the NSW, Beltran said that TradeNet is expected “to shorten the processing time of import/export clearances, reduce the number of transactions and required documents to be submitted, and remove bureaucratic red-tape that has plagued businesses and citizens when dealing with the government.”
TradeNet aims to connect 66 agencies and 10 economic zones involved in approving import and export permits and other trading requirements.
The original EO on the NSW covers only seven Cabinet-level departments and 13 government agencies. But with the need to interconnect a total of 66 agencies operating under 17 different departments, Beltran said the Steering Committee also agreed to propose an executive order to the President expanding the coverage and membership of the NSW Task Force.
Funding & Development
According to Beltran, TradeNet.gov.ph is being developed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), while the onboarding of agencies to the system is being initiated by DOF through its Inter-Agency Business Process Interoperability (IABPI) Project.
Last year, the DOF was able to secure a P21.5 million grant from the German development bank KfW Group to help implement TradeNet.
Dominguez said the grant from the Frankfurt-based KfW Group is now helping implement the Inter-Agency Business Process Interoperability (IABPI) Program, which aims to streamline the process of issuing permits for imports and exports.
The IABPI is being implemented by the DOF’s Policy Development and Management Services Group, also headed by Beltran, in coordination with the government’s trade regulatory agencies.
Aside from simplifying import-export documentation processes, the program’s targets include developing policies to “oversee, manage and harmonize transactions of all regulatory agencies” involved in these processes by establishing protocols to link their databases with each other.