AN increase in import charges may be seen as early as the first two months of the year after warehouse and ground handling operators reportedly agreed to the proposal of the export sector to hike the surcharge on imported goods instead of levy an export surcharge.
The Export Development Council (EDC) has indefinitely shelved debates on the imposition of the export surcharge after industry stakeholders came to such an agreement, according to a reliable source.
At the last EDC hearing, exporters stood firm on their position against the export surcharge, saying this will make Philippine exports uncompetitive at a time when it is gaining ground in the international market. The Philippine peso is at its strongest in six years. As of December 27, it closed at P49.195 to a US$1.
Meetings have already been deferred indefinitely as both operators and exporters already agreed to levy the extra cost on imports, the source who requested anonymity told PortCalls.
Exporters really wanted the surcharge levied on imported cargoes and not on exports as this will douse cold water on the growing competitiveness (of Philippine exports) in the international market, the source explained.
He added that warehouse operator People’s Aircargo and Warehousing Inc. GlobeGrounds PAGS (Pairpags) will submit such a proposal to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for approval. Import rates are regulated by the BOC.
Pairpags initially requested a more than 30% increase in the export service charge due to increasing export-related expenses.
It said revenues from imports, which have been subsidizing export expenses in the past several years, may no longer be relied on as imports have been down in the past two years.
Based on the original petition, operators are requesting that air cargo above 100 kilos carry an additional 33% export surcharge from the current P0.51 per kilo to P0.68 per kilo, and air cargo below 100 kilos, an additional 35% from P0.34 per kilo to P0.46 per kilo.
The surcharge should have been implemented by operators starting June 1 last year but this was deferred to September to give freight forwarders ample time to inform their clients about the change.
The date has, however, been pushed back several times after the operators’ failure to justify to exporters the need for such a surcharge.