BOC to launch electronic filing of certificates of origin

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ID-100320610The Bureau of Customs has tapped value-added service provider InterCommerce Network Services, Inc. (INS), to introduce a cloud-based solution that will automate filing of the certificate of origin (CO) by exporters as part of the drive toward Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration.

INS president Francis Norman Lopez, in a presentation at a recent Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau forum, said the electronic CO (ECO) is a cloud-and-value-added service provider (VASP) implementation model that will allow exporters to submit their CO online anytime and anywhere.

A CO, or Form D, is an international trade document attesting that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured, or processed in a particular country. Submission of COs, which also constitute a declaration by the exporter, is required to avail of preferential tariffs under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).

Lopez explained that BOC informed INS of the project last February, to which INS submitted an unsolicited bid since it already has an ECO in its system. The INS ECO was created by the Pan Asian eCommerce Alliance (PAA), a group of VASPs from different Asian countries. INS is PAA’s sole Philippine member.

Lopez noted there had been unsuccessful moves since 2010 to implement the ECO with Taiwan.

The ECO project will be undertaken in three phases, with Phase 1 set for a pilot run this May. BOC and INS, during the forum, asked for volunteer exporters to test the system before full implementation of the first phase in June.

Phase 1 includes online issuance of ruling on origin country of goods (upload approved list of export products qualified under ATIGA rules of origin, or ROO), online CO application by exporter, and submission of scanned copies of support documents, e-payment of BOC documentary stamp; issuance of ATIGA CO; and online printing of approved ATIGA Form D by exporter, with system-generated reference number and barcode.

The second phase, targeted for pilot testing in September and rollout in October, includes online application for pre-export verification on compliance to free trade agreement (FTA) ROO; online approval; monitoring of CO utilization and retro-verification; application for other FTA COs; and management reports.

The third phase will allow for electronic self-certification.

Lopez said the system will not cost BOC anything, but will be on a pay-per-use basis; no fees will be collected if the CO is not approved. Fee will be P100 before VAT, and exporters exempt from paying VAT will only have to pay the base fee.

Lopez said under BOC’s Citizen’s Charter, it should only take about 10 minutes for the agency to approve the CO, provided required documents are complete.

Once an exporter submits the CO, an automatic notification will be sent to BOC that a CO needs approval. Likewise, the exporter will receive a notification once BOC has approved the CO.

Moving forward, Lopez said there are plans to include other procedures into the system such as self-certification, and possibly even processes under non-preferential agreements.

Lopez said there will be another forum with exporters once BOC issues the implementing guidelines.

He noted that the printing and physical signing of the form will be honored during the transition from manual to electronic filing. But once the ASEAN Single Window goes live and other ASEAN countries are able to receive the electronic CO, Lopez said there will be no need for hard copies.

The system can also review the performance of specific customs officials with its time-measuring function. This will allow exporters to know and pick which customs officials approve COs faster, which in turn, Lopez said, will “motivate” customs officials to do their job more efficiently.

Under the system, exporters can also upload their lists of approved or qualified products, but these will still be for approval by the BOC.

Lopez said they are also working with Land Bank of the Philippines to facilitate payments. – Roumina Pablo

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