The Department of Finance (DOF) said the newly formed committee tasked to streamline trade processes and modernize major customs operations will be beneficial to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the Philippine Trade Facilitation Committee (PTFC) will play a critical role in enabling the country’s MSMEs to actively participate in international trade and broaden their access to global value chains.
During the first meeting of the PTFC on Wednesday, June 16, Dominguez noted that MSMEs often lack access to the global markets and have no financial capacity to overcome the inefficiencies of the trading system.
The PTFC was created through Executive Order (EO) No. 136 issued in May by President Duterte to enable the Philippines to comply with its commitments under the World Trade Organization-Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO-TFA).
The WTO-TFA mandates each member-state to establish and/or maintain a national committee on trade facilitation, or designate an existing mechanism to facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of the agreement.
“Our work is especially critical for the micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs that often do not have the financial capacity to overcome the inefficiencies of the trading system and lack access to the global markets,” Dominguez said.
“What we aim to accomplish here will allow them to actively participate in international trade and broaden their access to the global value chains,” he added.
Moreover, the finance chief said the spillover effects of improved trade processes and customs administration will create more jobs, bring in more possible investments, and help advance the skills and capabilities of Filipino workers and local entrepreneurs.
“All these will support the sustainable and long term growth of the economy,” said Dominguez, who was designated as PTFC chairman.
He said the expansion of the Philippines’ trade markets is among the vital factors that would aid the country’s post-pandemic recovery, which is why it is crucial for the government to continuously strive for a modern, more efficient administration of customs standards, rules and processes.
“This committee was not just created to simply comply with our commitments under the World Trade Organization. This was formed to ensure that we remain competitive in the continuously evolving global trade landscape,” he said during the meeting.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez sits as co-chairman of the PTFC, with the Bureau of Customs serving as the Committee Secretariat.
Dominguez said harmonizing the Philippines’ trade processes and modernizing customs operations will allow the country to thrive in the digital economy; make trade transactions cheaper, more efficient and transparent; and enhance revenue generation.
These will also lead to a more conducive trading environment for businesses, which, in turn, will increase the country’s trade volumes and reduce costs for both consumers and producers, he added.