Home » 3PL/4PL, Breaking News » Pact transferring PH sea freight forwarders’ accreditation to DOTC close to approval

ID-100207085A draft order that will effectively transfer the work of accrediting sea freight forwarders from the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), specifically the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), is now under review.

The DOTC legal team is studying the draft, after which it will be forwarded to the DOTC and DTI secretaries for signing.

When approved, the pact will formalize the transfer of DTI’s accreditation function over sea freight forwarders to the Marina, said Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association (PISFA) president Doris Torres after a May 18 meeting hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards director Ann Claire Cabochan said Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal, Jr. has told DOTC that DTI has no objections to the transfer.

Marina is also “in full support of the transfer,” affirmed Marina Overseas Shipping Service head Atty. Jean Ver Pia during the same meeting.

Pia further noted that in 2014 Marina had already drafted an executive order (EO) to replace EO 514, signed in 1992 and which converted the Philippine Shippers’ Council into the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (PSB).

When DTI implemented its rationalization plan in 2014, PSB’s functions, including the accreditation of sea freight forwarders, were turned over to the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau of the trade body.

One-stop shop

PISFA’s Torres said an executive order creating a one-stop shop serving the accreditation requirements of multimodal transport operators (MTOs or freight forwarders offering air, land, sea and rail services) is also being crafted. The envisioned one-stop shop will include agencies involved in accrediting transport operators, such as the Civil Aeronautics Board, Marina, and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

Pia, however, suggested that instead of an EO, a republic act might be better since the one-stop shop can then be institutionalized, unaffected by any future changes in government leadership.

For years, PISFA has pushed for the transfer of accreditation of sea freight forwarders from DTI to DOTC, pointing out that the latter is after all overseeing all other transport operators.

Moreover, the transfer will facilitate the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Framework Agreement on Multimodal Transport (AFAMT), signed by the DOTC in 2005 and which up to now has not been adopted.

Under the AFAMT, ASEAN member countries should form their respective certifying bodies for MTOs, a prerequisite for these operators to operate in other ASEAN nations.

Torres said implementation of the AFAMT is being hampered partly by government indecision on whether to push through with the transfer of accreditation from DTI to DOTC.

She said that AFAMT must also be adopted because, according to the National Economic and Development Authority, multimodal transportation is required under free trade agreements, especially with Europe. A key element in multimodal transportation is the ability of MTOs to issue a single transport document.

Torres pointed out that right now, freight forwarders in the Philippines “cannot consider ourselves MTO” because of their inability to issue a single transport document.

Other ASEAN member countries have already enacted laws recognizing MTOs within the region, she added.

“Imagine the impact (of non-AFAMT implementation)… MTOs from other ASEAN countries can operate on our grounds, putting us (at a) disadvantage because we cannot operate on theirs,” Torres said.

Earlier, Torres noted that having a single certifying body will also reduce costs and cut delays for MTOs, as they only need to register with one agency instead of several. – Roumina Pablo

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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