The Bureau of Customs issued a set of guidelines outlining the conditions for obtaining preferential tariff treatment under the newly-implemented Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement.
Under the Customs Memorandum Order No. 12-2023 dated May 26, 2023, imported goods that originate from any of the 15 member countries are the only ones eligible to claim the preferential tariff rates provided by the RCEP.
CMO 12-2023, signed by Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio, took effect on June 2. It outlined specific procedures that should be followed for the issuance and acceptance of the so-called “certificate of origin.”
As part of the RCEP agreement, certificates of origin have been mandated to accompany goods as they are transported between member countries.
This official document attests to the country of origin of the goods, allowing customs authorities, importers, and exporters to monitor the movement of goods within the RCEP trading bloc.
To qualify for the RCEP tariff rates, importers should obtain the certification along with a declaration of origin from exporters who have been authorized by the Philippines, as specified by the BOC.
The BOC tasked its Export Coordination Division to scrutinize all submitted certificates of origin and applications for Approved Exporter status.
“ECD shall carry out verifications of the originating status of the goods upon request of the RCEP importing party or based on risk analysis criteria. Verification can be made based on documents requested from the exporter or producer or by inspections at the exporter’s or producer’s premises,” the CMO read.
The bureau clarified that the final determination on the rate of duty would be based on the assessment of the submitted documents from the importers.
Exporters are required to submit an application with the ECD for the issuance of a certification of origin for RCEP.
The application should include the necessary supporting documents, such as an export declaration, commercial invoice, bill of landing/airway bill and other relevant permits.
The goal of the RCEP is to eliminate tariffs on a minimum of 90 percent of the commodities traded between member countries, while also strengthening regulations for non-tariff measures.
Within 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.
The RCEP agreement has been implemented among all its member nations including China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members.