COTABATO CITY: A forum aimed at reviving barter trading and eliminating smuggling was conducted by the Bureau of Customs in this city recently with the Department of Trade and Industry of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DTI-ARMM) in partnership with the Regional Economic Zone Authority (REZA) and the Polloc Free Port.
It was a step taken by the DTI to encourage even small business traders to legalize all their importing transactions to remove misconceptions that they are a party to alleged smuggling of products from Malaysia and Indonesia.
According to Fernando de Dios, DTI senior trade and industry development specialist, barter trading played a big part in the economic stimulus in the ARMM and this is why the department is looking to revive the import-export industry.
He said the agency is working on reviving real barter trading.
“The barter [trading]that we are talking about today is no longer the [one]that we knew early on when Sulu was still the barter trading center,” de Dios added.
Proper orientation on import and export guidelines for ARMM traders, he said, paves the way for the revival of such trading.
Eshan Karl Mabang, administrator of the Polloc Free Port, said the port’s design meets international port standards and that it is ready for international importation and exportation anytime.
He added that he supports the revival of barter trading and the projected boost this will have on the export side.
“We support this kind of economic activity since if this will be successful, we can provide employment, increase our revenue collection and it will result in much bigger remittance,” Mabang said.
The port, at present, receives cement, corn and equipment for renewable energy from Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea and India.
REZA-ARMM entered into an agreement with the BoC last October 2015 on implementation of mandatory electronic processing of transshipments of REZA locators to REZA Zznes and other procedures through the E2M (electronic-to-mobile) system.
E2M is an Internet-based technology that allows Customs officers and traders to handle most of their transactions online.
It makes use of advanced technology including electronic signatures to provide government officials with new tools to enable them to make dramatic improvements in security, and trade efficiency and to fight against corruption.
One of those who will benefit from the innovation is the Bangsamoro Oil and Fuels Corporation, which is waiting for its importation permit as it looks forward to building a P4-million oil depot in Polloc under a joint-venture agreement with a Malaysian company.
Dr. Amor Pendaliday, president of the corporation, said construction will take around three to five months and that the depot will have a petroleum capacity of about 14 million liters.
Pendaliday added that he is certain that once the Liguasan Marsh is explored and developed, exportation of crude oil is also very possible in the near future.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL