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SMEs encouraged to become exporters

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Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo will push for a package of policy measures for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the 43rd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings this week. This is part of  government efforts to encourage more SMEs to become exporters.

“We will be championing SMEs as a primary consideration in our international trade engagements, particularly on measures that will ease processes and procedures when availing tariff treatment,” Domingo said.

He said that the DTI is “actively exploring all avenues to make it easier for SMEs to become successful exporters.”

Domingo said he would like ASEAN officials and technical working groups to explore the possibility of reducing or revising the Rules of Origin requirements for the export transactions of SMEs. The ROO determines the country of origin of a product for international trade purposes.

In the Philippines, the DTI supported by the private sector and partner government agencies launched the Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA) business education program last year to increase the utilization of the country’s preferential trade agreements.

Domingo also said that he will be discussing with other ASEAN officials and technical working groups on how ASEAN could develop a “self-certification” option for its exporters.

Self-certification is practiced in the European Union (EU) and other developed economies where exporters, once certified by authorities to possess the capacity and competence, will be allowed to certify themselves in terms of ROO compliance and product shipments that qualify for preferential tariff rate under a free trade agreement.

Already, ASEAN member states are taking advantage of capacity building projects for self-certification under the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) technical assistance programs.

ASEAN officials will be recommending to the Ministers that the region’s pilot project for self-certification be extended for another year to allow more ASEAN member states to come on board.

By 2015, ASEAN envisions an ASEAN Economic Community with the following key characteristics: a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region with equitable economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy.
 
ASEAN represents nearly 600 million people and a combined GDP of US$1.5 trillion.

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