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PH, Korea gear up to launch FTA information portal in Q4

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The Philippines and Korea aim to launch a free trade agreement (FTA) information portal in the fourth quarter of the year, which is part of a project they are developing to optimize their FTA and other FTAs of the country.

Francis Lopez, president and chief executive officer of InterCommerce Network Services, Inc., said another component of the Philippines-Korea FTA project is the origin management system for exporters.

Lopez said the FTA information portal is “user-friendly” where exporters can login, input their product and then determine the best country to target and which FTA to utilize.

“There may be two or more FTAs that would be applicable and the exporters would be able to check which one would be more advantageous for the exporter to use in terms of FTA,” he said during the recent general membership meeting of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. 

Lopez said the origin management system for exporters, on the other hand, is targeted to be implemented or launched by the third or fourth quarter of 2025.  

“This will be together with the automated processes for the product evaluation report (PER) of the BOC (Bureau of Customs) and also the enhancements of the electronic certificate of origin issuance. Currently, as you know, the PER is manually processed by the BOC, it takes about 20 days for the processing of the PER,” he said.

Lopez said that under this project, the certificates of origin are targeted to be issued in five minutes similar to what Korea is doing.

“In Korea, it takes them about 20 minutes to do the origin determination and just another five minutes for the issuance of the certificate of origin. This is possible mainly because they have an automated system on the issuance of certificate of origin,” he added.

He said there will be a module that will be provided to the exporters so they can integrate their system to the origin management system, and this will facilitate the process.

Lopez said a version called FTA Korea Plus is being developed, which currently has more than 32,000 exporters as subscribers, generating 7.8 million origin determination and leading to issuance of 60,000 certificates of origin.

He said the Philippines-Korea FTA project aims to enhance the competitiveness of Philippine export products to target markets where the country has FTAs, reduce the time and cost of preparation and submission of documents for PER and certificate of origin, and facilitate the conduct of origin determination.

The Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT) and InterCommerce conducted the pre-feasibility study for the FTA Philippines project in 2021. KIAT accepted the study and allocated official development assistance funds for the project for implementation in 2023 to 2025.

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