By Chino S. Leyco
The customs agencies of the Philippines and China agreed to set up a data exchange system to facilitate the timely sharing of trade information and aid the two nations in their respective campaigns against smuggling and tax evasion.
Customs Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco reported to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III that the bureau has already requested from its counterpart in China several data on imports and exports.
Buco said they asked China for the data on commodity imports and exports to the Philippines between 2015 and last year.
They also asked for the monthly or quarterly export and import data of China to the Philippines by commodity this year and the export data on all shipments going to the Philippines and manifest of vessels carrying cargoes bound for the Philippines.
The request for information was in compliance with the directive of Dominguez to Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to check the narrowing but still significant gap between China’s registered export volumes to the Philippines and data on Philippine imports from China officially reported here.
Following Dominguez’s directive, Lapeña visited Beijing last February to personally discuss with officials of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) the Philippines’ concerns over these trade discrepancies.
During their meeting, the GACC officials led by Deputy Director General Zou Zhiwu, of the General Administration of China Customs, expressed China’s support for the Philippines’ anti-smuggling efforts.
China also agreed on the designation of focal persons between the two countries to facilitate the coordination between their respective customs agencies.
According to the Customs report, a Cooperative Arrangement between the agency and the GACC is scheduled to be signed during a proposed visit of Chinese officials to Manila in April this year.
Lapeña also met with Director Yuan Ziwei and Deputy Director Zhao Ru Xiao of GACC’s International Cooperation Division to discuss the progress of the Philippines-China agreement concerning Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters.
During the visit to China, the Customs delegation led by Lapeña also took part in the First Global Cross Border E-Commerce Conference, which was held at the Beijing International Convention Center.
In December last year, Dominguez said official trade data show that the estimated discrepancy between registered Chinese exports to the Philippines and registered Philippine imports from China has been declining but still very large, with the gap reported at 60 percent in 2010.
In 2010, registered Chinese exports to the Philippines was at $11.56 billion, but Philippine imports from China as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) was only at $4.628 billion, resulting in a trade discrepancy of 60 percent or $6.936 billion.
For the first seven months of 2017, Chinese exports to the Philippines reached $17.77 billion, while the PSA reported imports from China at $9.24 billion, or a discrepancy of 48 percent or $8.53 billion.
Compared to the previous years and the same period in 2016, the January-July, 2017 trade gap between China and the Philippines has been declining.
From January to July last year, China’s exports to the Philippines reached $17.10 billion, while PSA reported imports from China at $8.79 billion, or a discrepancy of 48.6 percent at $8.31 billion.
“It is going down but it’s still large,” Dominguez said.
In 2015, trade data show that Chinese exports to the Philippines was $26.69 billion, against PSA’s records of imports from China of $11.47 billion or a gap of $15.22 billion.
In 2016, the gap narrowed, with Chinese exports to the country at $30.35 billion, against PSA records of imports of $15.56 billion or a discrepancy of $14.79 billion.