Come AEC December 2015, it will no longer be a game of tariffs. After all, tariff barriers have long been eliminated. Since January 2010, the Asean-6 member states Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand have eliminated import duties on 99.65% of trade tariff lines, while the Asean-4 member states (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam) have 98.86% of their traded tariff lines reduced to 0-5%.
The real battle this time will be in the area of quality, of compliance, of standards, and of being able to meet the requirements of the global market. Exporters must hurdle non–tariff measures to be able to compete internationally. In the same vein, our local retailers must be able to compete with imported goods.
To this end, a nationwide survey on non-tariff measures (NTMs) was launched last July 8 through the efforts of the Department of Trade and Industry-Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Geneva, Switzerland, with the cooperation of the International Trade Center (ITC).
ITC, a joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations (UN) based in Geneva, aims to enable small business export success in developing countries by providing trade development solutions to the private sector, trade support institutions and policy makers.
Implementing the Philippine nationwide NTM survey is just part of the ITC’s strategic objectives to build awareness and understand market conditions through the assessment of the current NTM issues across sectors and identification by product and partner country of those NTMs which companies face as trade barriers. This ITC-funded nationwide survey intends to increase transparency about NTMs by collecting, classifying and disseminating relevant information on NTMs and by understanding the non-tariff obstacles to trade the business sector is facing.
Ms. Poonam Mohun, the NTM Project Market Analyst of the Market Analysis and Research Division of ITC, discussed how NTM nationwide survey will be implemented in the Philippines and ardently encouraged the business sector to be part of the survey.
“We had this survey done in some 23 countries including Indonesia and Thailand. I encourage the private sector, the exporters and importers to participate in the survey”, Ms. Mohun explained. “The survey results will show the obstacles that exporters and importers face when they are trading their goods. So it will bring all those issues to the limelight so everybody will know about the problems that are occurring in the Philippines.”
Nielsen Ltd. was selected by the ITC and their researchers were trained to do the survey here in the Philippines. They will assess responses from 1,200 exporters and importers, 450 of whom will be interviewed face to face, depending on the results of phone screening and company willingness to participate.
Ms. Rachelle Delfin, Research Manager of Consumer Insights of Nielsen Ltd. said the survey was designed by ITC. Respondents will be given advanced information on materials they would need so they can be ready by the time that they conduct the survey and make the call. It will run from July to November and results are scheduled to be released in the second quarter of 2015. Expected beneficiaries of the survey are the exporters and importers, trade support institutions, policy makers and researchers who will hopefully have a better understanding of the impact of NTMs on international trade. Results of the survey should be able to support the business sector also by government formulating national and regional strategies and policies to support the findings.
The results of similar surveys done in 23 countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Cambodia show that the top three NTMs identified by these countries as burdensome when exporting are conformity assessment (27%), export related measures (26%) and the rules of origin and related certificate of origin (16%). Other identified barriers includes technical requirements, pre-shipment inspection and other entry formalities, charges, taxes and other para-tariff measures, quantity control measures, finance measures, among others.
With these initial findings, we should not have waited any longer in finding out what reforms must be instituted here. Actually, we probably already know most of these already.
God is great!