The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has released guidelines for the application, submission, and processing of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) electronic certificates of origin (e-CO) using the Philippine government’s new platform, TradeNet.
Set under Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 15-2019 signed by Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on March 18 but published on March 21, the new guidelines follows the operational certification procedure (OCP) of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).
The ruling takes effect 15 days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation or on April 5, 2019.
In a press statement, the BOC said transactions under the new order are expected to be faster and easier, without prejudice to their quality and accuracy in terms of computations for dutiable values.
CMO 15-2019 requires the use of TradeNet (tradenet.gov.ph) in the application, processing, and issuance of e-COs for export, and in utilization of e-COS for imports.
TradeNet is the government’s online platform for applications for permits relating to imports and exports. Serving as the country’s national single window, the platform is required in order to connect to the ASEAN Single Window (ASW). More than 70 trade regulatory agencies in the Philippines are targeted to connect to TradeNet to make the platform fully operational.
With ATIGA’s goal to achieve free and faster flow of goods among the 10-member nations of ASEAN, the granting of zero or reduced tariff rates on certain goods originating from ASEAN countries will not only help boost the creation of an ASEAN single market, but it will also help strengthen an economically integrated ASEAN, according to Guerrero.
“While duties and taxes are important for the nation’s economy, as a signatory to trade agreements and in compliance to global trade rules and trends, the electronic processing of certificate of origin will get us in the loop of the global trade network.” Guerrero said, adding that, “We should not be left behind in the global trade trend.”
Under the ATIGA, the CO (or Form D), which also serves as an exporter’s declaration, has to be submitted to secure preferential tariffs, which are tariff schedules giving one or more nations lower rates or other advantages over other countries.
A CO is an international trade document attesting that goods in a particular export shipment were wholly obtained, produced, manufactured, or processed in a particular country.
To access TradeNet, exporters and importers must first create a TradeNet account and company profile with their respective usernames and passwords. The procedures for using and accessing TradeNet accounts, whether by the exporter, BOC or other users, are detailed in the TradeNet Client User Manual for e-CO Issuance and TradeNet Agency User Manual that are attached as annexes in CMO 15-2019.
Applying for pre-evaluation
For every export product whose origin cannot be easily ascertained by its nature, the exporter must submit an application for pre-evaluation.
Until such time that the application and issuance of the Product Evaluation Report (PER) is done electronically, exporters intending to export goods to an ASEAN member state must first submit an application for pre-evaluation for every export product, using the prescribed form, to BOC’s Export Division at the port where they regularly process their export declarations in the case of Port of Manila, Manila International Container Port (MICP), or Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and to the Export Coordination Division (ECD) for all other ports.
The exporter or duly authorized representative must submit the application for pre-evaluation of the export product at least 20 working days prior to the extended exportation of the products.
With a validity period of five years, PER is the document which contains the result/s of the pre-evaluation of export products applying for CO, after complying with BOC’s requirements. However, despite the PER’s validity, the exporter must still apply for a new PER for the same product if the tariff rate has been affected by the issuance of a new ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature.
If the application does not qualify with the rules of origin (ROO) and OCP of ATIGA, the ECD/Export Division shall send a notice to the applicant, stating the reason for not qualifying, but not disallowing the exporter from filing a new application for PER.
After ECD or Export Division completes the pre-evaluation of the export product, its duly authorized personnel shall upload the PER and list of pre-evaluated goods for each newly approved application to TradeNet. The exporter shall then receive a notification email indicating the successful upload of the PER.
Exporters of evaluated export products for which PERs have been issued and uploaded to TradeNet can already apply for the issuance of e-CO.
Until such time that all ASEAN member states start the full electronic sharing of electronic ATIGA (e-ATIGA) Form D via the ASW gateway, and all technical failures have been addressed, the exporter shall download then print and sign the e-ATIGA Form D, then submit the system-generated ATIGA Form D to BOC for manual execution of the signature and seal.
CMO 15-2019 notes that BOC shall no longer accept the system-generated ATIGA Form D once the electronic transmission of e-ATIGA Form D is fully implemented.
An interim unit to evaluate e-CO
Under the new order, a Preferential Rate Unit (PRU) shall be created under BOC’s Formal Entry Division or its equivalent units in all ports to receive the e-COs transmitted by the sending ASEAN member state to the Philippines through the ASW. The PRU shall also evaluate the authenticity of e-COS and origin declarations submitted by importers availing of preferential tariff rate for products exported by an ASEAN member state to the Philippines. It shall also recommend the acceptance of preferential tariff rate in accordance with ROO.
CMO 15-2019 notes, however, that verification function of the PRU of the printed e-ATIGA Form D as against its electronic form shall be on an interim basis until such time the e-CO is fully implemented.
To comply with the ASW e-ATIGA Form D Process Specification and Message Implementation Guideline, BOC, through ECD, shall send the e-CO to the ASW gateway in extensible markup language (XML) format. The ASW, in turn, will send the XML file to the importing ASEAN member state, which will then notify BOC of the utilization status of the e-CO.
Pilot-testing of the issuance, acceptance, processing, and utilization of e-ATIGA Form D using TradeNet platform shall be conducted in ports and sub-ports after compliance with technical and functional requirements as provided under CMO 15-2019.
A three-stage approach to pilot-testing of the e-ATIGA Form D through TradeNet shall be implemented. Stage 1 is live testing at Port of Manila, MICP, and NAIA; Stage 2 concerns live testing at the ports of Batangas, Clark, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Davao, and Subic; and Stage 3 involves the remaining ports and sub-ports joining live testing with at least five exporters and importers per port.
For Stage 1, there will be three stages. Stage 1A will have five volunteer exporters and importers; Stage 1B will have additional 20 volunteer exporters and importers; and Stage 1C, additional 25 volunteer exporters and importers, making a total of 50 exporters and importers.
Stage 2 will likewise have three stages, and involves Stage 2A, which will have five volunteer exporters and importers in five ports; Stage 2B additional 20 volunteer exporters and importers; and Stage 2C involves additional 25 volunteer exporters and importers, making a total of 100 participants in eight ports.
For Stage 3, live testing shall be reviewed per stage. System issues encountered during the pilot-testing shall be corrected and re-tested before proceeding to the next stage or level. Moreover, depending on how ready the involved ports and sub-ports are, live-testing can be accelerated or slowed as appropriate.
“Our objective in implementing this measure is to facilitate the transmission of e-CO for export products and the receipt of e-CO for imported products using available technologies and international best practices, in compliance with the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA),” Guerrero said.
The deputy commissioner of BOC’s Management Information System and Technology Group (MISTG) is authorized to issue a memorandum to the district/port collector on starting the live streaming in their respective ports.
Once the MISTG deputy commissioner declares the full start of implementation of the ASEAN e-CO, no outbound and inbound paper ATIGA Form D shall be processed or accepted, except for certain exemptions including system downtime exceeding two hours, loss of network connectivity exceeding two hours, and other service disruptions duly endorsed for manual processing and approved by the MISTG deputy commissioner. All manually processed ATIGA Form D shall be re-processed in the TradeNet platform once issues are resolved.
CMO 15-2019 notes, however, that before the electronic exchange of CO through TradeNet is fully implemented, involved government agencies shall identify the respective obligations and responsibilities to ensure smooth operation of e-CO, provide feedback and properly address the concerns of end-users.
All export products that have been evaluated and with corresponding PERs issued as of January 1, 2017 shall be uploaded to TradeNet.gov.ph. Exporters with PERs issued prior to January 1, 2017 must file a new application for PER.
CMO 15-2019 states that any Customs personnel found who, without justifiable reasons, delays the processing and uploading of the PER and the issuance of e-CO shall be held liable under existing laws, rules, and regulations. – Roumina Pablo