Gov’t urged to cut fees, ease rules on trade: For quick rebound from COVID

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  • The government should implement measures that would streamline processes to facilitate trade, as well as reduce transactions costs, amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak to ensure a quick rebound of the country’s external sector, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

    “The government should further intensify its trade efforts to minimize the impact from reduced external demand and manage timely recovery. This is while we are preventing the spread of COVID-19 with continued vigilance and implementation of health measures,” Ernesto Pernia, socioeconomic planning secretary, said in a statement yesterday.

    “In consultation with the private sector, the government should ease implementation of some regulations that will allow firms to manage costs and provide financing or loan restructuring to micro and small enterprises whose operations may have already been affected,” he added.

    Pernia cited measures that were instituted to remove administrative constraints for the importation of agricultural products under Administrative Order No. 13, s. 2019.

    These include streamlining procedures and requirements in the accreditation of importers and minimize the processing time of applications for importation; providing exemption to traders that are already accredited from registration requirements; and reducing transaction fees and cargo fees for a limited period.

    Pernia said relevant government agencies may institute similar measures.

    The NEDA chief also said the Anti-Red Tape Authority may play a crucial role in helping businesses lower their cost of production by fast-tracking the review of procedures of certain crucial agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines, to allow the introduction of new and innovative products to the domestic and export markets.

    Pernia added the government, in coordination with exporters, can also facilitate the identification of new sources and markets as well as diversification of its products to manage vulnerabilities.

    “In the longer term, emphasis must be placed on developing backward and forward linkages that will encourage production of raw materials and intermediate inputs, as well onward processing to finished products, in the domestic market to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers,” Pernia said.

    The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier said based on initial data from the Bureau of Customs, imports from China, the country’s biggest trading partner, declined 34.7 percent volume-wise in February 2020.

    There have been global supply chain disruptions as manufacturing and trade activities were affected by the COVID outbreak, especially in China.

    However, government officials have seen some signs that activities are starting to normalize in some parts of China as the country is working on recovering from the outbreak.

    “Just got this from one of the major port operators – China container import volume starting to move back up,” Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, told reporters in a viber message yesterday.
    Dominguez said this preliminary report covers shipments in early March.

    Ramon Lopez, Department of Trade and Industry secretary, also said in a press briefing last Tuesday while Chinese business activity weakened especially in February, a gradual normalizing of activities in China was seen this month.

    Lopez said 96 state-owned enterprises in China now work with 90 percent production rate; the 500 largest manufacturers, at 97 percent; while the small and medium enterprises, at 52 percent.

    “The resumption rate of large industrial enterprises, at 100 percent in Zhejiang, 96 percent in Jiangsu, 90 percent in Shandong, 82 percent in Guangdong, and key enterprises in foreign trade reached 100 percent work resumption rate in Tianjin, 70 percent in Chongqing,” Lopez said.

    “This just shows that a lot of activities outside the epicenter of Wuhan, of Hubei, are getting back to normalcy,” he added. (A. Cleis, Malaya)

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