FOREIGN businesses in the Philippines are urging lawmakers to pass the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) before 2015 to continue reforms made in the previous Congress and enhance the Philippines’ competitiveness when the ASEAN economies integrate.
The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) recently wrote House Ways and Means Committee chairman Romero Quimbo expressing support for House Bills 5 and 10 on the CMTA, which the group said would address the perennial problem of smuggling.
“In today’s fast-changing global economy, the Philippines can ill afford not to modernize its customs administration to keep up with changing international standards, to make customs valuation and inspection procedures more transparent and predictable, and to implement automated procedures,” the JFC said.
“The costs of the entire logistics chain which connects Philippine agriculture and industry to foreign markets must be made as competitive as possible to support existing businesses in the Philippines as well as to attract new ones,” it added.
The joint chambers said “to be able to take full advantage of new opportunities for the Philippine economy that will be created by the AEC, it is essential for the CMTA to be enacted and implemented in advance of 2015.”
By the end of 2015, the countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will have been transformed into an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) where there will be free flow of goods, services, skilled labor, investments and capital.
The JFC said passage of the CMTA would contribute to the ongoing structural reforms at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
During the 14th Congress, the Philippine Senate ratified the revised Kyoto Convention of the World Customs Organization under which the Philippines committed to bring its customs procedures in line with 78 other member countries.
In the 15th Congress, the House approved the CMTA on third reading.
“Many of the individual reforms in the bill when implemented will reduce logistic chain costs and enhance the country’s competitiveness,” the JFC said.
“The successful implementation of the reforms will go a long way in addressing the perennial problem of smuggling which contributes to revenue losses for the Philippine government and, more importantly, deters the proliferation of legitimate businesses,” it said.
As the Philippines moves into the AEC and in the future expands its trade and investment treaties with the Asia-Pacific and European economies with the Trans-Pacific Partnership or a European Union-Philippine Free Trade Agreement, the foreign chambers said the country would need a BOC which is free from corruption to be acceptable to regional as well as global trading partners.
The JFC counts the American, Australia-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese and Korean foreign chambers along with the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters as its core members.
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net