PH to join ASEAN Single Window platform this year – DOF

Robie de Guzman   •   October 14, 2019   •   209

The Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) flag (R) leads the flags of the 10-member countries during the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Singapore on 23 July 2008. EPA/ROMEO GACAD / POOL

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are expected to exchange customs and other trade-related documents over an integrated online platform by the end of the year, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In a statement, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said the move is part of the efforts of the 10-nation bloc to boost cross-border trade and reduce the cost and time of doing business across the region.

Beltran said the Philippines will join the ASW via its National Single Window (NSW) called the TradeNet, which will facilitate online the processing of permits, licenses and other clearances for the export and import of goods.

TradeNet will be connected and integrated with the NSWs of other ASEAN members to expedite cargo clearance and promote regional integration.

“Once the ASW is streamlined and used across ASEAN, businesses will benefit through lower transaction costs and less time to export their goods to countries within the region,” Beltran said in a statement over the weekend.

“Lower transaction costs will, in turn, enhance ASEAN’s trade competitiveness,” he added.

Beltran said the Philippines’ goal is to eventually have all 76 trade regulatory government agencies across 18 government departments fully interconnected.

TradeNet will simplify import and export documentary processes covering an initial 7,400 regulated products.

Besides the Philippines, Beltran said other member-states joining the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) platform are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, and Cambodia.

Myanmar and Laos are expected to join the ASW by November and December 2019, respectively.

He said ASEAN member-states that are already “live” on the ASW– Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Brunei — exchange over 460,000 customs and other trade-related documents a year at only 10 percent of the usual cost to traders.

He added that starting next year, additional documents, including sanitary and phytosanitary certificates, animal health certificates, self-certification of product origin, and shipping documents, are expected to be exchanged through the ASW include.

Beltran said the United States, Australia, and New Zealand will provide technical assistance to ASEAN to ensure that its members take full advantage of the ASW by 2020.

PH as world’s biggest rice importer concerns Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   November 12, 2019

Filipino port workers unload sacks of rice, which are imported from Vietnam to be distributed by the National Food Authority (NFA), inside a ship docked at Surigao port, Mindanao, southern Philippines. EPA-EFE/ALLANAH TORRALBA (FILE)

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang does not deny being concerned about recent reports that the Philippines is currently the world’s top rice importer.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, such report may be true but the government is making sure that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is on top of the situation.

“Ginagawa naman ni Secretary Dar ang kaniyang mga pamamaraan (Secretary Dar is finding ways) to solve whatever problems confronting the farmers,” Panelo said.

The report published by the United States’ Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA-FAS) projected the Philippines rice importation to reach a record high by year-end – about 3 million metric tons – the highest in the world and the country’s highest ever recorded.

This projection is way higher than China, the biggest rice importer so far at 2.5 million metric tons by year-end.

Malacañang, meanwhile, blames the country’s lack of irrigation as the main reason for the increase in rice importation. – MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

NHCP on Spanish-produced animated film: We respect artistic freedom

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 8, 2019

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has said they respect artistic freedom and has clarified that they do not endorse or critique films and other art forms.

This is amid the backlash from the Spanish-produced animated film, Elcano and Magellan.

In a statement, chairperson of the NHCP and the vice-chairperson of the National Quincentennial Committee Dr. Rene Escalate said the public should understand the nature of history as biased, subjective, and selective.

“This is true with the Spanish-produced animated film, Elcano and Magellan, which is, obviously, biased in favor of Spain and conforms to the Spanish point-of-view of the history,” he said.

“We are also biased toward our national sentiment and perspective: that Lapu-Lapu is our hero and Ferdinand Magellan was the defeated foreign intruder,” he added.

Escalante, meanwhile, requests the public to be critical and make use of the opportunity to discover who truly are our ancestors through books and museums.

“To enrich your knowledge about our identity as a people,” Escalante said.—AAC

Duterte thanks outgoing Ambassador Zhao for role in PH-China ties

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte shakes hands with Chinise Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua at the President’s Hall in Malacañan Palace on March 7, 2017. KING RODRIGUEZ /Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte thanked outgoing Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua for his contributions in forging “stronger” ties between the Philippines and China.

In a farewell call held at Malacañang on Monday, Duterte acknowledged Zhao’s vital role in the more robust bilateral relations between Manila and Beijing, adding he hopes Zhao’s successor would be as good, if not better than him.

“President Duterte, whose independent foreign policy drove the Philippines closer to the Asian economic giant, wished Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua good luck in his next assignment as China’s ambassador,” the Palace said in a statement late Monday night.

Zhao, 53, holds a Master’s Degree in World Economy from Nankai University and a Master’s Degree in International Policy and Practice from Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.

He served as China’s envoy to the Philippines in 2014.

Prior to his appointment to the country, he was the ambassador of China to the Republic of Liberia from 2010 to 2013.

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