Home » Customs & Trade » DOF working on harmonizing commodity codes

Starting this month,the Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) will work with various trade regulatory government agencies (TRGAs) in a series of tariff harmonization and classification workshops to gather the base data needed to run TradeNet.gov.ph, the government’s digital import/export permit platform.

Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran, who is the DOF’s anti-red tape czar, said the workshops aim to gather 42 agencies that regulate trade products and harmonize their tariff codes.

This is part of the government’s initiatives to facilitate trade and ease of doing business in the country, the finance department said in a statement.

The workshops are to be facilitated by the Tariff Commission (TC) in coordination with DOF Inter-Agency Business Process Interoperability Team and Department of Trade and Industry Bureau (DTI) of Import Service.

The workshop series will run five days a week from September to October at the TC office in Quezon City.

“The results of the workshops will be used as base data of the Tariff Code and Commodities that will be used by TC, Bureau of Customs, and the regulatory agencies on TradeNet,” Beltran said in his report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during a recent DOF Executive Committee meeting.

Harmonizing trade commodity codes was one of the agreements during the April 2018 meeting of the National Single Window (NSW) Steering Committee headed by Dominguez. By linking 76 TRGAs through a common database, TradeNet is expected to shorten the processing time for issuing import and export permits and minimize the cost of doing business.

TradeNet, which will serve as the country’s NSW, will function as the Philippines’ link to the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), a regional initiative to speed up cargo clearances and promote economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border documents among the organization’s 10 member-states. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are already using the ASW to exchange information on customs clearances.

Beltran said that through TradeNet, traders may apply online for import and export permits for commodities such as rice, sugar, used motor vehicles, chemicals (toluene), frozen meat, medicines (for humans, animals, or fish), and cured tobacco.

Besides TradeNet, the government is also working on three parallel initiatives that form part of its “comprehensive deployment of information and communications technology to enhance governance efficiency,” Dominguez earlier said.

One of these is the Government Cloud Service (GovCloud), launched recently by the Department of Information and Communications Technology to serve as the national government portal for all government information, transactions, and services. GovCloud will help to significantly reduce red tape and corruption in applying for permits, clearances, and other similar documents.

Another is the PHPAY platform, initiated by the DOF to function as a centralized online payment portal, transactions ledger, and reconciliation system. PHPAY will provide government agencies “a way to interface their service websites to payment facilitators, banks or credit card gateways, making it easier for private users to pay for permits or applications.”

The third is Philippine Business Data Bank (PBDB), which is a search engine for all registered businesses in the country that will be available online for government agencies to verify records for business registration and permits. PBDB will bring together for easier reference the available business registries from DTI, Securities and Exchange Commission, Cooperative Development Authority, and local government units. – Roumina Pablo

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