Government supports exporters on COVID-19 challenges faced

AnchorThe export industry remains resilient and optimistic to face the global health and economic crisis brought by the covid19 pandemic.

They are now producing in-demand products such as face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE), face shields, and other relevant medical supply needed in this time of pandemic. They have also opened the window to market their products through online platforms. Indeed, these products are potential to the export sector – to cater the world demand in the global market.

On the other hand, the government takes into account the challenges faced by the businesses; initiating programs to help address such concerns. Issues and concerns of exporters nationwide as well as updates on the regional Programs, Actions Plans and Policies (PAPs) are gathered from the recently concluded PEDP 2018-2022 Virtual Regional Consultations held this August 12, 19 and 26, 2020 for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The topmost concern raised is financial assistance specifically for medium-sized enterprises, with the approval of Bayanihan Act, the government thru the Department of Trade and Industry’s non-bank, lending arm – the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp) contributed to ease out the burden of these companies in need. They rolled out the SBCares program to help those micro and small business enterprises that have closed their businesses during the pandemic.

Now upon the approval of Bayanihan Act 2, SB Corp. assured support to Medium Enterprises, using their own corporate funds. SB Cares2 is now ready to roll out this program after the issuance of the implementing guidelines regarding requirements, terms and conditions for borrowers. Medium Enterprises upon compliance of requirements can borrow from Php500,000 to Php5 Million with zero interest.

On the logistics and supply chain unceasing issues, the Export Development Council (EDC) through its Networking Committee on Transport and Logistics (NCTL) successfully advocated for the online processing and payment of port charges, etc. through the issuance of BOC-DTI-PPA-ARTA Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) no. 01 s. 2020. The JMC makes online filing, processing and payment of port charges, cargo handling charges, other cargo handling related charges, permits, and ancillary fees, and customs taxes and duties mandatory.

To help sustain the economy through supply chains, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) created the Technical Working Group for Anticipatory and Forward Planning (TWG-AFP) chaired by the National Economic And Development Authority (NEDA) to develop detailed recommendations in the rebuilding of consumer and business confidence, the resumption of economic activities under the new normal, including strategic stockpiling. It is a joint initiative of various government agencies and private stakeholders.

Recently, the EDC approved two (2) project proposals worth Php3 Million of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Center for International Trade Expositions And Missions (CITEM) in lieu of the annual physical event as that of MANILA FAME Show; these are the (1) China International Import Expo (CIIE) 05 to 10 November 2020 and (2) China- Asean Expo (CAEXPO) which will be held on 27 to 30 November 2020. The said projects will benefit some 20 Philippine exhibitors in terms of subsidy for their participation fee and freight cost.
For further details of the above-mentioned project, you may visit the CITEM website at – PKC

Online System for all port processes and payment made mandatory thru Joint Memorandum Circular

The online filing, processing, and payment of port charges and other related fees is now made mandatory through a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC). With the JMC, it is now mandatory for all port users to file their applications online for permits and clearances for the release of cargoes from PPA, BOC, and other port operators including International Container Terminals Services, Inc. (ICTSI), Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI), and Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc. (HCPTI); and payment of corresponding fees shall be done through the accredited banks and payment channels.

Upon online payment, digital copies of the official receipts (OR) will be transmitted through different electronic platforms. These ORs shall suffice and be recognized as proof of liquidation, billing, and payment.

Another key feature of this JMC is the mandatory electronic processing of gate passes that can be printed by the client at their own locations. This gate pass shall allow the cargoes to pass through except in cases when there is derogatory information that has to be validated by the BOC – Piers and Inspection Division (PID) Personnel.

Moreover, this JMC puts the protocols into writing in case of a system failure; to prevent the possibility of having port congestion, and impediments on the movement of cargoes that leads to loss of resources and revenues.

For complaints, issues or problems, Clients may contact through the following platforms:

The virtual signing ceremony of the JMC happened on 5 August 2020 via zoom led by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), with the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). –KJDA

It pays to know right – MSME financing directory now available

The EDC Networking Committee on Financing came up with a Financing Directory aimed to assist the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have the option to choose the right financing program suited for their needs. The said directory is a compilation of different loan programs describing their eligibility criteria, requirements and other loan mechanics and processes from commercial banks, government financing institutions, other financing alternatives, venture capital (for start-up businesses), etc. Please note that the directory is based on currently available information and maybe subject to change by the concerned financing institutions/entities.

The said directory can be downloaded from the EDC website: 

SBCorp to fund the medium enterprises in the country  

fundingAccess to finance has been a perennial problem of the country’s MSMEs. Many financing programs were developed by government financing institutions to assist them in growing their businesses, ship their products, develop new products, attend trade shows, etc.  The latest of these many programs is SB Corporations’ (SBCorp) COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CAREs) program to micro and small enterprises for them to recover from losses that their businesses incurred during the pandemic.  All loans from the CAREs program are interest-free and payment starts after six (6) months upon release of the loan and is payable within 18 to 30 months.

Meanwhile, the medium enterprises whose businesses were also affected by the lockdown clamors to be included in the special loan facilities of government financing institutions in the country.  Ms. Mila Lacson, representing and championing the cause of her sector – the Holiday Décor & Giftwares, specifically called the attention of SBCorp as their applications for financial assistance under the CAREs program were denied for the reason that their companies are medium enterprises. Hence, the sector appealed that they should also be given financial assistance by the government, citing that they are more capable to pay dues, pay higher taxes and generate more jobs than their micro and small enterprise counterpart.

The EDC Networking Committee on Financing as tasked by the Council, convened a meeting with SBCorp. to tackle and address the specific concern of the medium sized enterprise sector,  The said meeting resulted to getting the support of the latter to include the medium sized companies in their loan packages.

Mr. Frank Gonzaga (SBCorp)  revealed in the said meeting that the proposed funding for Medium-sized enterprises will come from their Corporate funds. Under SBCorp’s Corporate fund which they tagged as CAREs 2 program, medium-sized companies can borrow from Php500,000 to Php5 Million, with the same term or zero interest rate but with additional requirements such as BIR receipts, SSS proof of payment, financial statements and higher processing fee. He added that they have yet to release the implementing guidelines for medium enterprises. As of this writng, the implementing guideline was already issued but SBCorp is advising the public that their IT group is still preparing the dedicated landing page and module for the lending window. Stakeholders will be advised upon completion. GTM

Skills development and the future of work amidst the Coronavirus pandemic

The Corona Virus pandemic never ceases to amaze us- aside from disrupting the economies of the world and changing people’s lives forever, it also made significant positive impact to some aspects of society including the skills we need, how businesses operate as well as the future of work.

To cope up with these trying times, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) came up with a three-month webinar series with an aptly titled theme: “21st Century Employers: Digital, Agile and Resilient”. Topics like automation, digital technology and their roles in the transformation of work brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution were discussed. Just as important are the new skills and talent needed to cope up with the new workplace environment were also discussed.

Because of the pandemic, the world suddenly found itself transformed digitally and virtually connected. The world is now witnessing a fundamental transformation in the way how businesses operate and how work is being done. In a positive way, the pandemic forced businesses to adapt to technological advances and policy changes which we now know as work from home arrangements,remote learning, e-commerce, cross-border collaboration and others. People all over the world now live in the new economy (the now and into the future) – powered by technology.

With the pandemic, what now will be the future of work and how do we build from it? ECOP President Mr. Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr, pointed out that “the need to build a better future of work after the COVID-19 pandemic is of great concern given its impact, especially among businesses and workers. We have seen a sudden shift to digital platforms and changes on the organization of work as it accelerates the role of artificial intelligence and technology. The future of work poses challenges and opportunities for businesses and employers, however, this can be shaped by social dialogue among government, workers’ and employers’ organizations in order to better navigate a fair transition towards a better normal and to build a better future of work in the Philippines”, thus following the principles of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

In addition, the health crisis also made imperative creative solutions in addressing needs for lifelong learning, TVET, apprenticeships, and skills development As such, speakers from the post conference discussed how employers can reskill and upskill their workforce in order to deliver unmatched customer experience in the most agile manner. It emphasized that employers will be more agile if they have viable labor market information, can anticipate changes in the way business is conducted globally, and quickly leverage the impact of technological advances. Finally, to help ensure agility, enterprise-based education and training to address gaps in emerging hard and soft skills will be the most viable training strategy.

As we now live and work in the “new normal”, it is imperative to say that employers and employees alike are harmoniously working side-by-side to safeguard the future of the business and its most valuable asset- its human resources. GTM 

PEDP 2018-2022 Virtual Regional Consultations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao

The Export Development Council (EDC), in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry- Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) and Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. will conduct a series of virtual regional consultations via zoom in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao comprising the top 10 exporting regions. 

The said event/s aims to present the updates on the implementation of the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2018-2022 and solicit commitments among stakeholders in regions to implement the Plan. Participants of the event are stakeholders such as direct and indirect exporters, logistics providers and the concerned government agencies (MC 27 agencies).

Recently, the EDC and EMB convened the PEDP Focused Group Discussion (FGD) virtually which was participated by the PEDP focal representatives from the 18 concerned government agencies directed under Memorandum Circular (MC) no. 27 to strengthen the implementation of the Plan. The FGD gathered updates from each agency on their Programs, Action Plans and Policies which has been affected by the pandemic.

The PEDP Virtual Regional consultations is scheduled every Wednesday (2:00pm-4:30pm):

LUZON (12 August 2020) : NCR, Region III-Pampanga and Region IV-A-CALABARZON

VISAYAS (19 August 2020): Region VI- Iloilo, Region VII- Cebu, and Region VIII- Tacloban

MINDANAO (26 August 2020): Region X- Cagayan de Oro, Region XI- Davao, Region XII- SOCCSKSARGEN and CARAGA

PRRD Signed Instrument of Accession (ATA Carnet) to boost Export Promotions 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) signed the “Instrument of Accession” for the Convention of Temporary Admission of Goods (ATA Carnet), also called the Istanbul Convention last 23 June 2020. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) already transmitted the signed Instrument to the House of Senate for concurrence by two-thirds (2/3) votes of its members.

This will boost export promotions by allowing more exporters to send commercial samples, professional equipment and articles to their foreign buyers; and participate in trade fairs, shows, and exhibits without Customs formalities hence reducing cost and time spent in complying with the procedures.

“The system will facilitate Customs controls, therefore reducing the time spent for crossing borders of the goods within over 80 ATA Carnet member countries and territories which is a common practice in the supply chain.  This will also contribute to the promotion of trade and open up new and bigger market opportunities overseas once we are ready to host and attend trade fairs again,” EDC Chairman, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.

Being part of the Carnet System is a great opportunity for the country’s economy (i.e. M.I.C.E. Tourism) to restore and flourish international film making, exhibits, and conventions after this COVID-19 pandemic. DTI said that it will assist Filipino exporters “to access key target markets such as China, USA, EU, Japan, and UAE – all of which are signatories to the ATA Carnet.”

“We are thankful that finally, the Instrument of Accession has been signed, giving a positive signal to the world that we are serious in expanding our trade, particularly our exports.” PHILEXPORT President and EDC Vice Chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said.

Also, the EDC endorses the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) as accredited by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to be the National Issuing and Guaranteeing Association (NIGA) for the ATA Carnet and further requested the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to be ready for the Issuance of the CMO in time the Senate has concurred the Instrument of Accession (ATA Carnet). MRJ

Online release of Travel Tax Exemption Certificate implemented by TIEZA

Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) implements the online release of the Travel Tax Exemption Certificate (TEC) in response to the new normal brought by the pandemic.  Exporters are encouraged to apply online to access the online release of TEC for their future international activities.  TIEZA assures 3 days maximum turn around time of their intranet system to process the release of TEC.  With this development, exporters can now print their TEC at the safety of their home instead of going to the TIEZA office to claim the said certificate.

But prior to the online application for the TEC release, TTE endorsement (Signed TTE application form) from the Export Development Council (EDC) is required for validation and verification purposes of TIEZA.  Exporters will undergo the usual process except for the submission of TTE application form that can now be submitted thru email along with the requirements (copy of the passport and proof or confirmation of participation to an international event) to any of the recommending agencies (CITEM/ DTI-EMB/ BITR/ PHILEXPORT) authorized under EO 589 for endorsement to EDC.

This was announced by Mr. Cristeto Ocampo, Officer-in-Charge for Travel Tax Department of TIEZA, during the Technical Working Group on Travel Tax Exemption virtual meeting held last 28 July 2020.

For further inquiries on the online issuance of the TTE certificate,  exporters may call TIEZA at 02 249-5900 to 79 Local 641, 643, 646  or email at Exporters may also click on this link for the online application of said certificate. MGL

SCMAP advocates to abort NORTHPORT’s New Berthing Procedure due to doubling costs

The Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines (SCMAP) advocates to abort NORTHPORT’s new berthing procedure as it doubles the costs of doing business making the prices of goods more expensive for the consumers.

Accordingly, this new berthing procedure compels all container vessels to berth at the Terminal 1 of the NORTHPORT, and imposes the use of their quay cranes regardless if the ship has its own crane. The cranage fee summates up to Php 1,587 (VAT inclusive) for 10 and 20 footer containers, hence adding 88% more to the current cargo handling rate of Php 1,800. This added cost and procedure is contrary to the ease of doing business.

The group appealed that the fees imposed must be justified for the modernization effort. However, the cost must be affordable and should not result in the added process and cost. SCMAP Executive Director Ms. Corazon Curay revealed the group’s sentiment on this advocacy during the EDC Networking Committee on Transport and Logistics meeting last 28 July 2020. KJDA

Transport of Potassium Nitrate in solid form authorized by PNP

The Philippine National Police of Civil Security Group (PNP-CSG) clarified in a memorandum authorizing the transport of Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) in its original solid form. This order will not require potassium nitrate to be diluted in liquid form prior to transport and passing through the PNP checkpoints. Said chemical in liquid or solid form shall be transported without delay provided that the company has complied valid permits (Permit to Unload, Permit to Purchase and Move, and Permit to Transfer) bearing the appropriate information necessary for its movement (i.e.PPME#, license#, company name, date of issuance and validity, specific purpose, quantity of chemical, port of origin, and destination). This mandate was clarified in a memorandum signed by PMGEN Roberto Fajardo (PNP-CSG) dated16 July 2020.

This concern was raised by the Export Development Council (EDC) Executive Member, Mr. Roberto Amores representing agri/food sector during the EDC Executive Committee Meeting via zoom last 30 June 2020.

Certain exporters from the agricultural groups have resorted to using this chemical due to climate change. Potassium Nitrate is being used for agriculture to ascertain the heat content required to induce flowering. Said chemical was flagged down at specific checkpoints due to its high explosive rate, with this risk it has to be diluted in liquid form prior to transporting.

PNP-Firearms and Explosives Office Chief, BGen. Rommil Mitra assured that the content of the aforesaid memorandum specifically authorizing the transport of potassium nitrate in solid form will be coordinated and disseminated accordingly among their personnel on the grounds/checkpoints to enhance trade facilitation without compromising public health and safety. MRJ