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Duterte signs EO modifying rates of import duty

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order modifying the rates of import duty on certain imported articles to implement the Philippine tariff commitments pursuant to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the country and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States.

Duterte signed Executive Oder No. 61 on August 2, less than four months after the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) approved the tariff reduction schedule on various products covered by the schedules of tariff commitments under the PH-EFTA FTA.

“All goods originating from the EFTA States, in accordance with the aforementioned Philippine Schedule of Tariff Commitments, entered into or withdrawn from warehouses or free zones in the Philippines for consumption or introduction to the customs territory, shall be levied the rates of duties prescribed therein, subject to the submission of an origin declaration, in compliance with the rules of origin under the PH-EFTA FTA,” the EO read.

It added that the Tariff Commission “may be requested” to issue advance rulings on tariff classification of goods to confirm the application rates of duty of the particular goods covered by the order.

The PH-EFTA FTA was signed on Apr. 28, 2016 in Switzerland and ratified by Duterte on Dec. 8, 2017 but concurred by the Philippine Senate only on Mar. 5, 2018.

The agreement covers trade in goods, services, investment, government procurement, intellectual property rights, competition and sustainable development.

It is applied to the trade and economic relations between the Philippines and EFTA countries.

The PH-EFTA deal also provides “that the Philippines shall, upon the FTA’s entry into force, eliminate import duties and charges having equivalent effect on import duties on non-agricultural goods originating from an EFTA state, except as otherwise provided for in the Schedule of Tariff Commitments on Non-Agricultural products”.

Under Republic Act No. 10863 or the “Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CTMA)", the President shall, upon NEDA recommendation, modify import duties, including any necessary change in classification and other import restrictions. (PNA)

Jelly Musico / PNA