THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) will set up a Trade Transparency Unit (TTU) in cooperation with the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to facilitate data exchange and promote the detection of trade-based money laundering and commercial fraud violations.
The establishment of the TTU is in line with a Letter of Intent (LOI) signed on June 20, 2013 by the Philippines, represented by the BOC, and the DHS, represented by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Under the LOI, the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) will provide BOC with access to the Data Analysis and Research for Trade Transparency System, an HSI computer system that contains domestic and foreign trade data and allows users to see both sides of the trade transaction, making the transaction transparent.
This access will provide both the HSI and BOC the tools necessary to identify international trade anomalies and financial irregularities indicative of trade-based money laundering, customs fraud, movement of counterfeit goods and other import-export crimes.
The Philippines is the HSI’s 10th foreign trade transparency unit partner.
The TTU will have the following functions:
- Assist and cooperate with its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) counterpart such as detecting anomalies and suspicious trade and financial transactions
- Facilitate the exchange of data
- Provide administrative support to its US counterpart by sharing information, data and documents
- Perform such other necessary functions to pursue and carry out the objectives of the order.
The TTU will be composed of Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Jessie Dellosa as BOC overall coordinator; a special assistant from the IG, the legal Service, the Management and Information Systems Technology Group (MISTG), and the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service.
Dellosa will have the capacity, as overall coordinator, to issue subpoenas for purposes of obtaining any documents, data and information that may be required and recommend additional personnel if required.
Meanwhile, MISTG Deputy Commissioner Primo Aguas will head the steering committee of the Trade Related Technical Assistance Project 3 (TRTA 3), a development cooperation project by and between the Philippines and the Commission of the European Communities.
TRTA 3 aims to further promote the integration of the Philippines into the regional and international trading and investment system by an integrated approach containing reforms in policy and legislation, procedural and technical improvements, as well as capacity development.
The European Union provides €8 million (P453 million) for the TRTA 3 project, bringing the total of its trade-related assistance to the Philippines since 2005 to €18 million (P1.019 billion).
At the launch of the project last June, EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux said in his speech “there is sufficient evidence that outward-looking countries opening up trade and investment opportunities have better- than-average records in achieving respectable economic growth rates, greater equity, more inclusiveness and higher poverty reduction.”
He also cited that TRTA projects had led to increasing trade volume through the BOC’s “electronic to mobile” (e2m) system, a platform that aids electronic payments and submission of customs declarations.
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