Business leaders cite trade facilitation gaps

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Enhanced ease of doing business and lower regulatory costs are the top recommendations of Cebu and Davao traders to improve trade facilitation and boost the Philippines’ economy and competitiveness.

Both Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCCI) president Consul Antonio Chiu and Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PhilExport) Davao Chapter president Antonio Ferdinand Marañon recommend reducing requirements and shortening processing time to simplify procedures and make compliance by importers and exporters easier.

Marañon, at the 3rd Mindanao Shipping Conference 2018 held in Davao on 3 August, said that “every businessman’s perspective in trade facilitation is simple: reducing costs.”

He said this means “less restriction and regulatory requirements and a more rationalized trade cost where exporters need not pay more than the legally mandated fees to expedite the processes of exporting and importing.

He added that there should be more coordination among government agencies to simplify documentation and export and import facilitation procedures.

Marañon said that in practice, “exporters often face longer processing periods, voluminous requirements, and have to pay more to hasten processing time, minimize delays and prevent physical inspection of cargoes.”

He said that being an exporter himself, he has seen how, in order to apply for permits to import at central offices in Metro Manila, his company needed to have a “permanent person” in the metro to do follow-ups of applications. Another cause of delay is the lack of readily available government personnel to check the compliance of traders.

Chiu, at the 2nd Visayas Shipping Conference 2018 on 2 August, also noted that the “centralized application of permits complicates businesses.”

“The submission of applications directly to central offices of government agencies located in Manila would take weeks or months. This poses a huge burden to businesses, particularly for the small and medium enterprises who are more vulnerable to financial and efficiency costs; this is one of the most unfriendly requirements to investors,” Chiu explained.

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