Local retailers seek removal of de minimis value in imports

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) has urged policymakers to reevaluate and remove the de minimis value in import goods, particularly concerning online retail purchases.

In a position paper, the PRA said the evolving landscape of global trade emphasizes the need for continuous policy review to ensure effectiveness and fairness to all stakeholders. The de minimis concept in trade, originally aimed at streamlining trade processes and facilitating commerce, has come under scrutiny amid the rapid growth of e-commerce and globalization.

According to the PRA, the current de minimis value in the Philippines, which exempts imported goods valued at P10,000 or below from duties and taxes, creates an uneven tax landscape, especially concerning the growing amount of foreign e-commerce transactions. This current policy not only distorts the competitive playing field in the retail sector but also poses risks such as the proliferation of counterfeit items and substandard products.

The PRA’s position paper outlines several arguments supporting the removal of the de minimis value:

* Economic considerations: The surge in tax-exempt imported goods, particularly driven by the booming e-commerce sector, deprives the government of substantial revenue and undermines fair tax principles.

* Fairness and equity: The current policy creates an unfair competitive advantage for local retailers who diligently fulfill their tax obligations, as opposed to foreign merchants conducting business through e-commerce platforms who may not adhere to the same tax requirements. This discrepancy results in negative distributional effects across various industries, not just within the retail sector in the country.

* Safety and security: The removal of the de minimis value is crucial to address the influx of counterfeit and substandard products into the Philippines, safeguarding consumer safety and upholding product quality standards.

* Alignment with international policies: Benchmarking against global standards and best practices, such as those in the EU and the US, offers numerous advantages in trade facilitation, competitiveness, and consumer protection.

The PRA strongly urges policymakers to carefully consider the removal of the de minimis value as a strategic measure to promote economic development, fairness, and consumer safety. Emphasizing the significance of comprehensive policy review and essential reforms, the association aims to enhance the competitiveness of local industries and pave the way for a sustainable and prosperous future for the Philippines.

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