President Marcos eyes pre-shipping inspection of agricultural products

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
President Marcos eyes pre-shipping inspection of agricultural products
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivered a speech during the signing into law of the P5.268-trillion budget for 2023 at the Malacanang Palace on December 16, 2022.
STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — The government is eyeing pre-shipping inspections of imported agricultural commodities to curb smuggling and ensure their safety for public consumption, President Marcos said.

The possibility of conducting pre-inspection of imports came out following Marcos’ meeting with executives of Société Générale de Surveillance SA (SGS), a leading testing, inspection and certification company based in Geneva, Switzerland, at Malacañang on Thursday.

“This scheme would minimize smuggling. It will be essentially…pre-shipping inspection,” the President was quoted by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) as saying.

SGS was represented by vice president George Bottomley and managing director Cresenciano Maramot at the meeting.

“That means before the product is loaded on the ship in the place of origin, they will inspect it so they can say, ‘this is real, the weight is right, the quality is right, the records in the (country) of origin are correct’ – all of these items. So that we don’t have to do it here in the Philippines,” Marcos said partly in Filipino.

SGS said the pre-shipment inspection (PSI) and conformity assessment procedures would ensure that the quantity and other specifications of the goods conform with sanitary and phytosanitary import permits and test the presence of diseases, among others.

It will address smuggling and contain the spread of diseases such as African swine fever and Avian flu, clarifying also that inspection and testing fees would be paid for by the exporter, the company said.

According to the President, the company will extend to cover agricultural invoices so that prior to the arrival of the planes or ships, shipments are paid already, speeding up the process.

There is also the need to conduct cost analysis first to make sure that no added burden will be imposed on consumers, he said.

According to the UN Commodity Trade data for the Philippines, some 20.48 percent discrepancy in the reported values of agricultural imports from 2010 to 2021 were found, resulting in revenue losses for the government.

For edible vegetables, roots and tubers, the discrepancy was 34.74 percent while for swine meat (fresh, chilled or frozen), the discrepancy was at 41.89 percent.

Under the arrangement, SGS will create a digital invoice in a standardized format prescribed by the authorities on an online government platform for registered or authenticated agricultural exporter/seller/supplier, the PCO said in a statement.

The invoices will be available in real-time to the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs which, according to SGS, would deter importers from manipulating or falsifying invoices and instead increase tax compliance and enable cross-agency trade data reconciliation.


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