Laws to ease shipping in and out of the Philippines could come into effect before next year’s elections, a senior trade source said.
Various legislative initiatives are underway, Sergio R Ortiz-Luis Jr, president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, told the first-quarter General Membership Meeting. “We are pleased that three of them appear to have some chance of approval before May 2016.”
For shippers, the most important initiative is Senate Committee-approved bill number 2364, which would allow foreign ships to call in multiple ports, provided they carry import or export cargoes, hence lowering cargo costs. “This would allow importers and exporters to co-load in foreign ships going in or out of the Philippine jurisdiction,” Ortiz-Luis Jr said.
Co-loading is where a sea carrier bound for a specified destination agrees to load, transport, and unload the container van cargo of another carrier bound for the same destination. However, the Philippines’ 57-year-old Tariff and Customs Code limits this only to vessels carrying a certificate of Philippine registry.
“This development is a critical competitiveness measure, since [micro, small, and medium enterprises] that are importing or exporting goods will be able to access a cheaper alternative in transporting their goods through co-loading in foreign ships,” Ortiz-Luis Jr said.
Customs is also involved via the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), which will bring Philippine laws on a par with best global practices, he added.
“It has passed the House Committee level and is now being fast-tracked at the Senate with our active participation,” continued Ortiz-Luis Jr.
Complementing this are moves by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to simplify procedures by increased computerisation and fewer documents, which will be enforced more vigorously under a new customs commissioner, Ortiz-Luis Jr said.
“We have seen this in the repeal of the inspection of container stuffing, removal of the ‘running list’ that can impede cargo loading, consolidation of regulated import lists, and computerisation between the BOC and Philippine Economic Zone Authority, airway bill, and soon, sea freight bill.”