Exporters push for several trade-related bills

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Exporters push for several trade-related bills
Trade deficit occurs when the country’s imports bill outgrows export sales.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) is urging Congress to pass several economic and trade-related bills to sustain a rebound in exports amid the continuing weakness in the global economy and to achieve the intended targets under the export development plan.

During the National Export Congress 2023, Philexport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said that the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act is undergoing a much-needed amendment, primarily focusing on the value-added tax (VAT) zero-rating provision.

Ortiz-Luis said that after the House committee on ways and means approved the revival of the VAT zero rating on local purchases by local suppliers accredited by the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), exporters expect similar favorable results when a counterpart Senate bill is drafted.

He said that exporters are also optimistic about some game-changing results with the approval of amendments in the Magna Carta for micro, small and medium enterprises as this facilitates development funds from SB Corp. to fund MSME projects.

“On the other hand, there are regulatory mandates we need to sort out with a couple of agencies so that the National Quality Infrastructure Law based on international standards can be passed,” he said.

Ortiz-Luis cited other urgent and critical bills, including the amendments in the charter of the Philippine Ports Authority to decouple its regulatory and development functions and lessen the cost of shipping goods; Open Access in Data Transmission Act to liberalize internet access; and Customs Amnesty Act, both as a revenue generating and business-friendly measure.

“We could not emphasize more the importance of getting these reforms passed as part of the conditions within which export growth and targets under the PEDP (Philippine Export Development Plan) are connected,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ortiz-Luis emphasized the renewal of the country’s access to some trade preference programs that help the country maximize overseas market openings for its products. This includes the renewal of the United States Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which expired in 2020, as well as the European Union Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

While the EU GSP Plus is set to expire at the end of this year, the EU recently approved a four-year extension of the program.

“Some of our best bets as we take advantage of these trade privileges include electronics, Halal products and services, the creative sector which is getting a boost from its law approved in July last year, fresh and processed food, organic and green products, coconut-based goods, and the high-level and intensive global and investment campaigns led by no less than President Marcos,” he said.

During the fourth quarter general membership meeting of the Philexport, Ortiz-Luis reiterated the likelihood of missing this year’s export target of $126.8 billion as agreed in the PEDP  launched in the middle of June.

“This target reflects a growth of 46.64 percent over the 2022 level, assuming that trade policies, programs and other collaborations for projects and programs would help achieve the goal,” he said.

“Inflation and higher interest rates are not helping boost domestic prospects either. Nor are the many other regulatory and other bottlenecks that PHILEXPORT, working with the EDC (Export Development Council) and other partners, are trying to help address for the industry and specific sectors,” he added.

Under the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2023-2028, the country is targeting exports to reach $126.8 billion for this year.

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