The WCO builds the capacity of the Philippines Bureau of Customs to conduct a national Time Release Study and implement WCO Immediate Release Guidelines

28 February 2023

The WCO conducted a mission from 28 January to 02 February 2023 to reconfirm the various collaboration areas to further strengthen the Bureau of Customs (BOC) capacity to effectively implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The mission was in the context of its longstanding and comprehensive Mercator Programme partnership under the auspices of the United Kingdom’s His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) supported Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme.

The WCO team zoomed primarily in on capacity building to conduct a national Time Release Study (TRS) at the Port of Manila and to implement the WCO Immediate Release Guidelines at the Manila International Airport cargo area in order to align with TFA Article 7.8 on Expedited Shipments, which mainly relates to courier and express cargo shipments and as such constitutes an important building block to foster e-commerce. The mission built on the previously provided virtual capacity building to BOC in these two areas.

To observe the ‘as is’ clearance process of courier cargo, the WCO mission visited two leading global courier companies operating in the larger Manila area. Led by the BOC implementation team, the mission walked through the clearance process to identify opportunities to further streamline and digitalize air cargo clearance, which would also allow for less hard copy paper printing and storage. Moreover, appreciating that the BOC already conducted several Customs focused TRS’, the mission served as a catalyst to bring the TRS on the agenda of the Philippines Trade Facilitation Committee, which also brings together other governmental agencies and the private sector to allow for a more holistic baseline and picture of bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement.

The WCO delegation had strategic meetings with Acting Customs Commissioner Mr. Yogi Filemon Ruiz and the BOC senior executive team to take stock of progress made and to reconfirm future collaboration areas under the Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme. Deliberations focused on capacity building and technical assistance on TFA measures and cross-cutting BOC organizational development enablers – including Risk Management, TRS, Air Cargo streamlining, Integrity, National Customs Trade Facilitation Champions, Competency-based Human Resource Management, and Gender & Diversity. The BOC leadership formally reemphasized its full commitment to the partnership and obtaining sustainable results for economic prosperity to benefit the people of The Philippines.

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