IN recent years, the Philippine government has been aggressively promoting the development of Subic and Clark as an economic corridor for international trade especially with Taiwan and the ASEAN countries.
Subic-Clark is envisioned as the country’s next logistics and manufacturing hub, offering opportunities for preferential trade with ASEAN and other countries.
Memorandum of Agreement
Last August 21, 2008, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by top officials of Subic Clark Alliance for Development Council, BOC, Clark Development Corp and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to adopt international standards and best practices on cargo clearance rules and procedures in the Subic-Clark economic corridor. The MOA was part of ongoing efforts to harmonize Immigration, Customs and Quarantine (ICQ) rules and procedures for Subic and Clark.
The parties to the MOA agreed to implement the National Single Window program in Clark and Subic; adopt international standards and best practices on cargo clearance rules and procedures, including the Revised Kyoto Convention; and institutionalize a partnership and cooperation aimed at enhancing the image and competitiveness of the two Freeport Zones as a preferred international investment and tourist destination.
Pursuant to the MOA, the top officials of BOC-CDC-SBMA signed on the same day a Joint Memorandum Order (JMO) entitled “Automated Transit and Admission Declaration of Cargo for BOC, CDC and SBMA”.
The JMO was issued to, among others:
- Facilitate trade and reduce transaction costs for Subic and Clark import and export activities;
- Provide a secure system for preventing smuggling and protecting government revenue; and
- Establish an automated system for issuing admission/transit permit and for processing goods discharged from Manila ports bound for Subic and Clark.
The JMO provides the operating guidelines for the following:
- Automated application and issuance of Import Permit (for Clark) and Declaration of Admission (for Subic) applicable for all goods whether discharged in Manila port or directly in Freeport;
- Automated filing of goods declaration (Transit Permit) for goods discharged in Manila port; and
- Single submission of electronic data for Freeport permit and good declaration (Transit and Admission Permit or e-TAP).
Procedures for e-TAP
Registered locators of Subic and Clark who wish to avail of the e-TAP system will have to submit an Application Letter and List of Importables to the Freeport Authority concerned. Part of the application letter is the submission of the nominated Value Added Service Provider (VASP) and customs broker. Once the application is approved, the list of importables is uploaded in the e-TAP system through the nominated VASP.
Thereafter, locators can proceed to submit its online application for the Import Permit (for Clark) or Declaration of Admission (for Subic). For goods directly discharged in NAIA, the locator will be allowed to make a single online submission for both the Freeport Permit and the customs declaration.
A Customs-Freeport Zone Office (CFZO) has been established to process goods discharged at the NAIA port. Once the system is fully operational, procedures will also be established at Port of Manila and MICP.
Benefits to Traders
Once fully implemented, locators of Subic and Clark will benefit from the automated clearance system through:
- Facilitation of the filing, processing and approval of Freeport Permits Customs Declaration (Transit Permit);
- Minimal manual forms required, reduced photocopy expenses, reduced processing time and costs;
- Minimal face-to-face intervention with customs and freeport personnel;
- Single filing and submission of Freeport Permit and Customs Declaration (Transit Permit);
- Advance processing of goods declaration in certain instances at Manila port;
- Locator’s visibility/access to information relating to transactions with Freeport and BOC through the VASP; and
- Minimal errors in filings and minimal delays due to errors.
The author is an international trade consultant and a licensed customs broker. He is a lecturer on logistics, indirect tax and customs, and a lecturer of Ateneo and BayanTrade on Supply Chain Management. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for your comments.