The Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PhilExport) is seeking government assistance to ensure Filipino exporters can comply with a new European Union registration requirement crucial for the continued availment of benefits under the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program.
In particular, a Bureau of Customs (BOC) order is needed to effect such requirement. This order has yet to be drafted.
In a letter to Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña and Department of Trade and Industry Bureau of International Trade Relations director Anne Claire Cabochan dated August 13, PhilExport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. sought assistance “in facilitating the necessary legal and technical preparations for the registration of our exporters to the EU REX (Registered Exporter) system as an initial step to avail of the EU GSP+.”
REX is the new system of certification of origin of goods that the EU is progressively introducing for the purpose of its preferential trade arrangements. It was first applied to the GSP program from January 1, 2017 and will completely replace the current system of origin certification based on certificates of origin issued by government authorities and on invoice declarations made out under certain conditions by economic operators.
The global transition period from the current system to the REX system started on January 1, 2017 and will last until June 30, 2020 at the latest.
Under REX, economic operators will themselves make the “statements on origin.” To be entitled to make a statement on origin, an economic operator will have to be registered in the database of his competent authorities, thus making the economic operator a “registered exporter.”
The Philippines is currently a beneficiary country of the GSP Plus (GSP+) program, a component of EU’s GSP program for developing countries that allows duty- and tax-free access of Philippine products to the European market.
Ortiz-Luis said PhilExport understands that to apply under the REX system, a GSP beneficiary-country has to satisfy two prerequisites: submitting to the European Commission an undertaking providing for administrative cooperation in the framework of the REX system (Article 70 of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447); and communicating to the Commission the contact details of the competent authorities dealing with the registration of the exporters and administrative cooperation (Article 72 of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447).
He said PhilExport Cebu Chapter at a recent forum learned that the BOC—the country’s competent authority that will have to process the application of exporters to the REX system—has yet to release the draft customs memorandum order critical for compliance to the registration system.
The Philippines has notified that it will apply the REX system on January 1, 2019.
Extension of deadline
Ortiz-Luis is also asking BOC to assist exporters in asking for a possible extension of the registration deadline by another year.
“Because of the time constraint, we agree that it is also urgent and important that as we attend to the CMO and other legal requirements, we likewise request for an extension of the registration deadline to help ensure that our exporters have the time to comply,” Ortiz-Luis said.
“Otherwise, it will be a major loss of opportunities, if not fatal to our sectors and exporters, to miss this privilege,” he pointed out.
The Philippines was granted beneficiary-country status under the EU GSP+ in December 2014. Under this, the Philippines may export 6,274 eligible products duty- free to the EU market. Prior to December 2014, the Philippines was covered by the regular EU GSP which provided zero duty to only 2,442 products and reduced tariffs to 3,767 products.
According to the EU Trade Preferences Monitoring Report released on January 19, 2018, the robust trade relations between the Philippines and EU were highlighted with EUR2 billion worth of Philippine exports in 2017 benefitting from the GSP+ compared to EUR1.66 billion in 2016.
As of press time, both BOC and DTI have yet to respond to PhilExport’s letter. Cabochan, however, at the Cebu forum said they are in close coordination with the BOC on the issue. – Roumina Pablo