Modernization, improved clearance processes, NSW onboarding lead BOC 2021 priorities

BOC's 10-point priority programs for 2021. Infographic from BOC's website.
  • BOC’s 10-priority programs for 2021 include implementing its modernization, enhancing export clearance and informal entry processes, and onboarding more agencies to the National Single Window
  • Also on the list: full implementation of the Authorized Economic Operator program, intensified post-clearance audit functions, promotion of advance ruling system, enhancement of customs facilities warehouse management

Under its new list of priority programs this year, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) plans to implement its modernization program, enhance the export clearance process, and onboard more trade regulatory government agencies in the National Single Window (NSW).

To modernize itself, BOC will undergo re-engineering to improve its administration, reduce transaction costs, and enhance predictability and transparency of the clearance process through use of information and communications technology (ICT). It will also operationalize its Customs Operations Center, its intelligence and enforcement central command facility which was inaugurated last month, and the establishment of a customs training institute.

BOC also aims to intensify this year its post-clearance audit and post-modification functions by implementing an enhanced procedure of account-based and transaction audit. The bureau will also implement a computer-aided risk management system and post-clearance collection payment guidelines.

Another priority is to encourage an additional 15 trade regulatory government agencies to join the NSW, the platform required to connect to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Single Window. The goal is to have all 75 trade regulatory government agencies across 18 government departments fully interconnected via TradeNet.

TradeNet is the government’s online platform for processing applications for import and export permits and serves as the country’s NSW. TradeNet will eventually replace NSW Phase 1 currently being operated by BOC.

BOC said that to achieve its goal, it will engage more with agencies and stakeholders, and promote the benefits of implementing international standards through the use of the NSW. The bureau will also engage its mother agency, the Department of Finance, to arrange a workshop on the NSW for relevant stakeholders.

AEO full implementation

Another priority program is the full implementation of the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Program. This includes promoting the program and conducting an AEO Diagnostic Mission in 2021 to validate the processes in line with the World Customs Organization (WCO) guidelines.

BOC’s AEO Program, which was launched in December 2019, complies with the country’s commitment to WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade. The AEO program represents a customs-to-business partnership that seeks to enhance international supply chain security and facilitate movement of legitimate goods.

BOC last year called on importers and exporters to join the program and become accredited as AEOs following the completion of measures that fully implement the program.

Also a priority is promoting and applying the advance ruling program as it provides consistency to assessment of a good’s value, adds certainty and predictability to international trade and helps commercial importers or foreign exporters arrive at informed business decisions, said the agency.

Stakeholders are also urged to apply for advance ruling on issues of valuation or rules of origin for a better transaction experience.

To achieve this goal, BOC will conduct a survey on the awareness of BOC personnel and stakeholders of the advance ruling system, and disseminate and post customs orders on the advance ruling system for valuation and rules of origin.

BOC this year will also pursue integrity development and quality management to become “a professional, honest, and accountable organization.”

It said it “will continue to instill good governance, professionalism and integrity in the institution and its individuals through integrity development which will be useful in decision-making as well as in improving individual and organizational performance.”

The bureau will also continue to align its offices to ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System standards.

Boosting water patrol functions

Another priority program is to strengthen port surveillance, marine interdiction and water patrol capability. This will be done through increasing police manpower, conducting a series of marine interdiction for capacity building, and providing modern equipment to ensure stronger border control capabilities and prevent the entry of illegal commodities and anti-social goods.

BOC will also reactivate its Water Patrol Division, deploy additional personnel to conduct border patrol, and procure water patrol boats and surveillance equipment and other gadgets.

This year, too, it aims to enhance its customs facilities warehouse management through the use of ICT to exercise its full authority over such facilities and protect government revenue and prevent custom fraud.

BOC will finalize its customs memorandum order (CMO) on customs facilities and warehouses (CFW) and conduct training on CFW. It will also integrate inventory management in CFWs.

To streamline export procedures, meanwhile, BOC will also use ICT-enabled systems and modern techniques to process export declarations and issue certificates of origin and proof of origin. In addition, BOC will establish a comprehensive reporting and monitoring system for all export transactions.

BOC said that as part of this, the CMO on the export clearance process will be finalized, and training on the export clearance process will be conducted.

Lastly, BOC’s priority programs include simplifying and fully automating its informal entry processing to enhance the bureau’s capability to collect information, assess risks, and target high-risk shipments.

BOC will also issue relevant orders on its informal entry process and ensure mandatory X-ray inspection of all consolidated shipment of balikbayan (personal effects) boxes. The agency will at the same time make sure container yards, container freight stations, warehouse operators, and off-dock CFWs comply with the requirement to have an X-ray inspection facility.

Since 2019, BOC has been identifying 10 priority programs yearly that are geared towards accomplishing its organizational and operational targets for the year. – Roumina Pablo