“Tariff Concessions and Rules of Origin under the Philippine-EFTA Free Trade Agreement”

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The Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines in cooperation with the PSBC held another breakfast discussion on “Tariff Concessions and Rules of Origins under the Philippine-EFTA Free Trade Agreement”. Ambassador Andrea Reichlin hosted the event last 30 March 2017 at her official residence in Makati City. The invited speakers who were also the lead negotiators for the Philippines in the recent PH-EFTA FTA are Ma. Lourdes Saluta, Director of RIITAS, Philippine Tariff Commission, Ms. Fe del Rosario, OIC-Director of IPPS, BOI and Atty. Vincent Maronilla, District Collector-MICP, BOC. Director Saluta in her well-delivered presentation informed the participants of the immediate benefit specific to tariff as soon as the Philippines ratify the agreement. For our country, 92% of PH products were committed for zero tariffs upon ratification while 7% will take effect in the next 10 years. Tariff on motor vehicle parts will be reduced. The EFTA states on the other-hand committed zero tariffs on all industrial products, fish and other fish products. Negotiations for agricultural products were strictly bilateral between the PH and each EFTA state. OIC-Director Del Rosario’s presentation focused on “Rules of Origin” or the nationality of the product. She pointed on the definition of a Wholly Obtained “WO” product and how an exporter needs to strategize and develop expertise in order to be classified as WO and enjoy zero tariff in accordance with the PH-EFTA FTA. Director Del Rosario also mentioned that Origin Declaration by accredit exporters is a positive development that we should all look forward to as part of the trade facilitation initiatives of the government. Lastly, Atty. Maronilla of the Bureau of Customs, best the discussion by highlighting three points necessary to facilitate trade and which is in conjunction with the Customs Modernization Tariff Act (CMTA): 1) Use of Advance ruling on valuation and classification is advised as these will be binding with the BOC. 2) Transparency should benefit MSME’s by publishing regulations online. 3) We should be mindful of the CRIL (Customs Regulation Import List) as this will provide us with all necessary requirements before we move our products. Atty. Maronilla also suggested availing of the Super Green Lanes facility for the unhampered release of our products but subject to post audit by the BOC. I am enjoining all our members to participate in future Breakfast Discussions hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines to keep in line on developments leading to the ratification of the PHEFTA Free Trade Agreement. Breakfast Discussion Series, Makati, April 10, 2017