PHILEXPORT Cebu appealed to Bureau of Customs (BOC) Cebu Collector Ronnie Silvestre to hold the implementation of a Customs order that centralizes the processing of the certificate of origin (CO) and requires the submission of sensitive information about their products.

The centralization of the certificate of origin, contained in Custom Memorandum Order (CMO) 2-2010, aims to streamline the bureau’s internal control system.

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The order was issued by BOC Commissioner Napoleon Morales last month.

Philexport Cebu said they’d like the order held until after they have presented their industry-wide position paper to Morales on Feb. 12.

The order also aims to improve the coordination, monitoring and oversight functions of the export coordination division (ECD), considering the dynamic international trade environment brought about by the Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) being signatories to bilateral and regional free trade agreements.

Also, the Philippine export products are beneficiaries of unilateral preferential grants.

The immediate implementation of the order worried exporters in Cebu.

Citing their position, Philexport Cebu highlighted that the resultant delay of 22 days in the release of their CO is unacceptable and hurts the industry.

Philexport Cebu said the actual processing time for COs under the present system only takes two to three hours. COs must be approved immediately since this is one of the documents they must present to banks to get paid for the exported goods.

Since most of the Cebu-based exporters belong to the small and medium enterprise (SME) category, Philexport Cebu said the directive will be crucial to them in managing their cash flow.

The second concern raised by Philexport Cebu is the requirement to submit sensitive information about their products.

One of the directives cited in the CMO 2-2010 is the establishment of a comprehensive database of information related to the use of all types of COs as well as pre-evaluated exporters and their products, including their production or manufacturing processes and product costing.

“Exporters are not comfortable with providing the specs of their products as these might be copied,” said Philexport Cebu executive director Fred Escalona in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu.

Max Ricohermoso, Philexport Cebu vice president, said during the forum last Tuesday that the directive could put the competitiveness of the exporters at risk.

Aside from the concern on the confidentiality of records, Philexport Cebu also raised the lack of CO signatories in the Port of Cebu.

“There is a need to increase signatories for CO to fast track the processing of documents,” Escalona said.

Philexport Cebu is the umbrella organization of Cebu-based exporters.