Developing the Philippine National Trade Repository to help reduce cost of business

MANILA, June 14 (PNA) — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as chair of the Committee for ASEAN Economic Community (CAEC), is currently holding a series of roundtable discussions on the ASEAN Economic Community.

The roundtable discussion on AEC is a follow-up to the big AEC Forum held last April which aims to surface issues and brainstorm possible action points that will comprise the “PH game plan.”

The first CAEC roundtable discussion held last month focused on “Developing the Philippine National Trade Repository (PNTR),” a web-based portal that would provide a single source of comprehensive, accurate and current information on all trade related matters.

“The establishment of the PNTR is an important component of the government’s trade facilitation strategy. It provides businesses easier access to information and facilitate their compliance with prescribed regulations. The PNTR will create a more transparent environment for trading and will help reduce the amount of transaction time and costs,” DTI Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr said.

The development of the PNTR supports the Philippines’ compliance with its international commitments.

The PNTR will connect and interoperate with the national trade repositories of ASEAN member states to create the ASEAN Trade Repository (ATR) under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).

The target date for launching of the PNTR will be in 2015, as part of the country’s commitments under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

During the PNTR roundtable discussion, former NEDA Secretary Dr. Cielito Habito and currently Chief of Party of the USAID Trade-Related Assistance for Development (TRADE) Project , provided a brief overview of the AEC.

He said that the overall benefits of integration of the region outweigh the costs. Apart from zero tariffs already in place for all but a few traded goods, Habito cited the ASEAN Secretariat’s latest scorecard on the member-states’ AEC Blueprint commitments that puts the level of compliance in the range of 84 to 89 percent.

Other speakers in the roundtable discussion were Salvador M. Buban, Trade Facilitation Advisor of the USAID-TRADE Project, Director Luis Catibayan, and Asst. Director Sherwin Prose C. Castañeda, both from the DTI Bureau of Import Services.

The participants of the Discussion Series include members of Trade Related Government Agencies (TRGA). These are agencies that regulate importation and exportation of various commodities. Many of these agencies are attached offices of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Finance, among others.

The PNTR roundtable discussion was organized by the DTI, the CAEC Secretariat, and the USAID Trade Project.

Other topics scheduled for the next roundtable discussions will be on Standards and Conformance and Maximizing AEC Integration for Philippine Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The AEC envisions a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN economic region in which there is a free flow of goods, services, investment and a freer flow of capital, equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities.

Member countries have set the AEC reckoning date at 31 December 2015. (PNA)