THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) has issued guidelines outlining the conditions for obtaining preferential tariff treatment in accordance with the newly implemented Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

In a statement on Monday, June 5, 2023, the BOC said Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 12-2023, which was signed by commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio on May 26, 2023, has already taken effect on June 2.

The order indicated that imported goods that originate from any of the 15 member countries are eligible to claim the preferential tariff rates provided by the RCEP.

RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its five FTA partners including Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

CMO 12-2023 provided specific procedures for the issuance and acceptance of Certificate of Origin, which is required to accompany the goods being transported between the member countries.

“This official document attests the country of origin of the goods, allowing customs authorities, importers, and exporters to monitor the movement of goods within the RCEP trading bloc,” the BOC said.

“To qualify for the RCEP tariff rates, importers must obtain this certification along with a declaration of origin from exporters who have been authorized by the Philippines, as specified by the BOC,” it added.

The BOC’s Export Coordination Division (ECD) is responsible for carrying out verifications of the originating status of the goods upon request of the RCEP importing party or based on risk analysis criteria.

Verification will be made through the documents requested from the exporter or producer or by inspections at the exporter’s or producer’s premises.

For the issuance of a Certificate of Origin for RCEP, exporters are required to submit an application with the ECD with all the necessary supporting documents such as an export declaration, commercial invoice, bill of lading/airway bill, and other relevant permits.

The BOC said the determination of the final rate of duty shall be based on the assessment of the submitted documents from the importers.

With the trade agreement, the Philippines retained its existing preferential tariff rates for 98.1 percent of the 1,718 agricultural tariff lines, as well as for 82.7 percent of the 8,102 industrial tariff lines.

Out of the 1,685 agricultural tariff lines that are being preserved at present rates, 1,426 will be maintained at a zero rate, while 154 will continue to be charged at their existing most favored nation rates, and will therefore not be included in any form of tariff concessions.

“In cases where the RCEP preferential tariff rate is higher than the applied rate at the time of importation, the importer shall be allowed to apply for a refund of any excess duties and taxes paid for originating goods,” the BOC said. (SunStar Philippines)