3:52 am | Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—The Russian Federation and the Netherlands have joined the growing list of countries that have forged customs cooperation agreements with the Philippines.
Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said this would boost the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) campaign against all forms of smuggling, commercial fraud and transnational crimes.
He said the agreements would initiate information exchanges for the benefit of all countries and provide assistance in the areas of trade statistics, customs law enforcement, human resource development, technical know-how and trade facilitation.
In a text message to the Inquirer on Monday, Biazon said these were the second and third agreements entered into by the BOC since he assumed office in September 2011.
“The first agreement, which involved Mexico, was signed last year,” he said.
Biazon disclosed the BOC was holding exploratory talks and negotiations for similar arrangements with a number of nations. He did not identify the countries.
“We’ve had similar agreements with the United States, South Korea, Australia, China, Taiwan and Israel. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) also has multilateral agreements, which we are a part of,” he said.
Borders divide, customs connect
Citing the World Customs Organization motto, “Borders divide, customs connect,” Biazon said the country’s agreement with Moscow “is expected to enhance cooperation between the customs agencies of the Philippines and Russia.”
“The cooperation agreement between the two countries is expected to prevent breaches of customs laws and protect their economic, fiscal, social and commercial interests, including the assurance of appropriate and efficient customs duty collection,” he said.
The BOC head also said that with the budding trade relations between the Philippines and Russia, close links between the respective countries’ customs agencies becomes necessary.
The Moscow-Manila agreement was signed at simple rites at a Manila hotel on April 24, where the Philippines was represented by Biazon and Marichu Mauro, Department of Foreign Affairs executive director for European Affairs. Russia was represented by Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev and Vladimir Malinin, Russian Embassy deputy head for federal customs service.
On April 25, Biazon represented the country again in the signing of the customs cooperation agreement between the Philippines and the Netherlands.
Director Hans Van Bodegraven of the Dutch Directorate General for Tax and Customs Policy Legislation signed on behalf of the Netherlands government.
According to Biazon, “the most salient feature of the agreement is the establishment of a working cooperation between the two countries in putting up the parameters for the accurate valuation and assessment of customs duties and taxes on all goods shipped between Manila and Amsterdam.”