ASEAN Single Window: Key to a strong regional trade

Marje Pelayo   •   April 26, 2018   •   3791

ASEAN trade ministers

 

SINGAPORE – The Philippines is likely to join this year the so-called “ASEAN Single Window” as it participates in the 16th ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Meeting on Thursday, April 26.

The ASEAN Single Window (ASW) is an online platform that expedites cargo clearance process, reduce cost and time of doing business, and enhance trade efficiency and competitiveness.

In his opening remarks, Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry and the AEC Chairman Lim Hng Kiang said it is expected that once fully established, ASW “would reduce transaction costs for businesses and better facilitate the clearance of goods within ASEAN.”

ASW is now operational among five member states – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Other five members are expected to follow through. The Philippines, at present, is still on a pilot testing of its National Single Window (NSW) program.

Mr. Lim also stressed on other important agenda on the two-day Summit in terms of trade and business. Aside from ASW, he also mentioned ASEAN’s Declaration on Cruise Tourism on which ASEAN “committed to transforming Southeast Asia into a vibrant cruising destination via infrastructure development and improved on-shore activities” emphasizing on the creation of a regional cruise hub.

Mr. Lim is positive that with the member states’ commitment and collective efforts, “ASEAN remains on the trajectory to closer economic integration and sustained, long-term growth.”

Representing the Philippines in the 16th ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Meeting is Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. – Maila Guevarra / Marje Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

 

COVID vaccination not a condition for Singapore-bound OFWs — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   June 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Singapore are not required to get inoculated against COVID-19 before they are allowed into the city-state.

Labor Attaché in Singapore Saul De Vries said that vaccines are not part of the arrival protocols in the city-state but still the government of Singapore is implementing strict quarantine protocols due to the recurrence of COVID-19 cases.

“It is not a condition for OFWs to be inoculated before departing for their jobs. However, the Singapore government requires them to undergo a 21-day institutional quarantine and take RT-PCR test thrice,” De Vries said.

Following the recurrence of cases, De Vries said the Singapore government has temporarily suspended the entry approval applications of foreign workers from high-risk countries.

“Hopefully, such regulation or policy will be reviewed this coming July when cases of COVID-19 infection have slowed down,” he added.

Based on the Labor Department’s records, there are around 200,000 Filipinos in Singapore, 180,000 of whom consist of professionals, skilled workers, household service workers, healthcare workers, and those working in the service sector of the tourism and information technology industries.

De Vries also announced that POLO-Singapore has recently approved over 200 job orders (JOs) for vaccinators with a monthly salary, ranging from 1,800 to 2,000 SGD or equivalent to a little over P63,000.

“Aside from the 200 vaccinators, the demand for household service workers is still high in Singapore,” he added.

While it is not mandatory for OFWs to be vaccinated before they enter Singapore, De Vries said that migrant workers are included in the vaccination program of the government. OFWs are therefore highly encouraged to get inoculated, as this is the best way to fight the spread of the virus.

“I believe that most, if not all, of our OFWs in the healthcare industry have already been vaccinated, since they are included in the priority group listing,” De Vries said.

Despite the scaling down of POLO operations in Singapore, the office managed to distribute financial assistance of $200 or P10,000 under DOLE’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program to OFWs who either lost their jobs or experienced wage reduction, as well as those who contracted COVID-19.

Food packs, essential hygiene kits as well as physical and mental health and wellness activities have been provided for migrant Filipino workers especially the distressed ones to help them cope with their daily lives while community quarantines are enforced.

DOF orders tighter watch on rice imports following tariff cuts

Robie de Guzman   •   June 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) on Monday ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to keep a tighter watch on incoming rice imports to ensure the proper collection of taxes following the implementation of tariff rate cuts.

In a statement, the DOF said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued the directive pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 135, which mandates the temporary adjustment of tariff rates on rice imports to offset the effect on consumers of the continuous increase in the price of rice from other countries, particularly those coming from ASEAN countries, and thereby reduce inflationary pressures.

The DOF said the EO 135 would enable the country to diversify its market sources for rice and maintain the stable supply and affordable price of the cereal for Filipino consumers.

Dominguez cited India as a possible source of cheap rice imports.

“I think there will be a shift in the imports of Thai and Vietnamese rice, and Burmese (Myanmar) rice, to rice from other countries where the value is much lower. Just keep an eye on that,” Dominguez told Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent executive committee meeting.

During the meeting, Guerrero said the BOC is currently reviewing the valuation of rice shipments from Vietnam, noting that most of the imports from there were “declared with values lower than the published prevailing prices for such exports from that country.”

“We discovered that many of these importations are under a tentative assessment so we are reviewing the payments,” Guerrero said.

He said the average value of rice imports, coming mostly from Vietnam, dropped 12.7 percent to P19,312 per metric ton (MT) in May 2021, compared to P22,119 per MT in the same month last year.

The average value of rice in May was also lower than the P21,066 per MT recorded in April and P22,119 per MT in March.

Guerrero previously reported increasing tariff collections despite lower import volumes because of a steady improvement in the BOC’s valuation system.

Preliminary data showed that from January 1 to April 30, a total of 804,360MT of rice shipments worth P17 billion entered the country, representing a 9.2-percent decline from the 885,645MT valued at P16.4 billion that were imported during the same period last year.

ASEAN leaders push for cessation of Myanmar coup crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have reached a five-point consensus on the Myanmar coup crisis during their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia over the weekend.

In a joint statement, ASEAN leaders demanded, “immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and (that) all parties shall exercise utmost restraint.”

“Constructive dialogue among all parties shall commence to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people,” the statement read.

A special envoy of the ASEAN chair shall “facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of ASEAN,” in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian bloc added.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah from Brunei is the current chair of the regional bloc.

“The special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned,” it said.

“ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance through the AHA Center,” it added.

More than 700 people have been killed since the military coup in Myanmar began on February 1.

In a separate statement, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the five-point consensus reached by the ASEAN leaders seek to improve the situation in Myanmar.

Locsin stressed that Brunei’s role as ASEAN chairperson “puts it in a strong position to lead ASEAN as it offers assistance to Myanmar in ending violence, restoring peace, and facilitating its return to political normalcy.”

The regional bloc also reiterated calls for the immediate release of political prisoners in Myanmar, as well as the importance of Myanmar’s continued efforts to address the situation in Rakhine State, including the repatriation of Rohingya Muslim minority group.

Some one million Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, and the ASEAN leaders said their repatriation should be done in a safe and dignified manner in accordance with its bilateral agreements with Bangladesh.

In response to the ASEAN leaders’ call, Myanmar’s newly former National Unity Government welcomed the five-point consensus on the coup crisis, and stressed that they are waiting for a firm action by ASEAN to de-escalate the conflict.

“We eagerly await the engagement by the ASEAN Secretary General as mandated by this meeting. We look forward to a firm action by ASEAN to follow up it decisions and restore our democracy for our people and for the region,” it said.

Myanmar’s Chairman of the State Administration Council, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, also said that his country is focused on restoring peace and stability to improve the current situation, and that they would consider ASEAN’s positive and sound proposals, taking into account their domestic situation.

The ASEAN leaders’ meeting held on April 24 was presided by Bolkiah, and attended by Hlaing, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the summit but he designated Locsin as his Special Envoy to the meeting. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.