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PIA Press Release

RP urged to address non-tariff barriers

by Danielle Venz

Manila (18 November) -- The Philippines should shift its focus to addressing non-tariff barriers (NTB) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) which are being used by importing countries to deter competition and act as disguised restriction to market access.

Donald Dee, chairman and chief executive officer of the Universal Access to Competitiveness and Trade (UACT), said the ballgame of trade policy has now shifted from tariffs to NTB and SPS.

"Clearly, tariff reduction to zero granted to us by our trading partners for our products, would be useless if we are still unable to penetrate their market, because of stringent requirements that the importing country imposes," he said.

With this, Dee said businessmen are asking the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in partnership with the private sector and funding agencies, to develop a portal of all the SPS, NTBs and technical barriers to trade (TBT) where the country has export interest.

For her part, Imelda Madarang, vice president and general manager of RFM Corporation's Corporate Exports Division, also stressed the need to address issues relating to SPS and TBT in order for more food firms effectively utilize particularly the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).

She said they experience many problems in adapting to complex procedures, mechanisms and legal and technical interpretation of the SPS agreements.

Madarang said transition firms should be provided more trade facilitation support and services to meet the fierce competition brought about by FTAs.

There is likewise a need to accelerate streamlining of customs processing particularly the adaptation of international practices on rules of origin (ROO) administration for simplicity, efficiency and speed, she said.

ROO is an essential feature of any trade agreement as it sets the criteria for determining'originating goods' from FTA parties which can qualify for preferential tariff treatment.

Moreover, Madarang, formerly Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, said the implementation of an ASEAN Single Window must be accelerated, as it increases the use of information technology (IT)-based system for expeditious and timely clearance of containerized goods and commodities at any ASEAN entry point.

She also underscored the need to fast track the regional standards harmonization, certification and Mutual Recognition Agreements; and to create an environment that allows the private sector to be competitive. (PHILEXPORT) [top]

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