Philippines climbs 20 notches up in business destination ranking

The Philippines has improved its standing as a business destination, particularly in terms of market access, ranking 72nd out of 132 countries on the World Economic Forum’s enabling trade index.

According to “The Global Enabling Trade Report 2012,” the Philippines climbed by 20 notches up the index from the previous 92nd spot in 2010, reflecting what was perceived as a reduction in trade barriers.

The Global Enabling Trade Report 2012 measures the factors, policies and services that facilitate the trade in goods across the borders of 132 countries. It includes the areas of market access, border administration, transport and communications infrastructure, and business environment. Each area consists of pillars and indicators that assess the different aspects of a country’s trade environment.

The Philippines, in particular, showed a remarkable improvement in the area of market access, where it jumped 50 notches to No. 14 from being No. 64 in 2010.

The market access sub-index measures the extent to which the policy framework of the country welcomes foreign goods into the country and enables access to foreign markets for its exporters, according to the report.

In terms of efficiency of import-export procedures, the country took the No. 48 spot, also an improvement from the No. 55 position posted in 2010.

The Philippines, however, fell six places to No. 62 out of the 132 countries, in terms of efficiency of customs administration, from its previous record of No. 56 in 2010. Based on the trade report, among the most problematic factors for trade in the Philippines included access to imported inputs at competitive prices; identifying potential markets and buyers; and corruption at the border, among other concerns.

The country continues to lag in terms of transparency of border administration, ranking a dismal 117th out of the 132 countries. This was, however, an improvement compared with the 119th position of the Philippines back in 2010. This particular pillar was measured in terms of irregular payments in exports and imports and Corruption Perceptions Index.

Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, in a statement issued on Tuesday, assured the public that the government would continue its efforts to reduce trade barriers and further improve the business environment in the Philippines.

“It’s been a long time coming, we’re happy with the results, it shows that all our efforts this past two years are starting to pay off,” Domingo said in response to the results of the 2012 Global Enabling Trade Report.

The trade chief attributed the country’s improvement in rankings to the Department of Trade and Industry’s efforts to facilitate trade across borders such as the Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA), an awareness campaign that has aimed to help various stakeholders understand the emerging and new markets, as well as instruments such as free trade agreements (FTAs).

More DBFTA sessions will be held in key cities in the country this year, and each session will include presentations on market opportunities, including non-tariff measures, country’s FTA markets, tariff rates of top exports for sectors under the FTAs, rules of origin, an open forum, as well as business testimonials.

Help desks would also be made available after each session to provide assistance to interested exporters and importers, he said.

Other initiatives are already in place to bring down trade barriers, according to Domingo, who cited the Asean Single Window (ASW)—a component of the progressive schemes on customs development shared by the 10-member Asean bloc. It is tasked with the formulation and implementation of rules and procedures for trade facilitation.

Recently, the Philippines was chosen to chair the Asean Single Window Steering Committee to supervise ASW’s upcoming projects and activities.

The DTI is also pursuing reforms to improve the ease of doing business in the country through the Philippine Business Registry (PBR) and the Business Permits and License Streamlining (BPLS) program for the local governments.

The Philippine Business Registry was launched last January to speed up the business registration process in a matter of hours as against the weeklong wait under the previous system.

The streamlining of business permits and licensing systems, on the other hand, is a joint project of DTI and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which targets to reduce the number of days, steps, documents and signatures required to get a permit from the local government units.

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