[EDITORIAL] Trade barriers

April 4, 2018 at 10:50


Trade barriers

(The Philippine Star) | April 2, 2018 – 12:00am

Aside from battling drug trafficking, fighting corruption is his other priority, according to President Duterte. He will have to push his officials harder in waging this other war.

His campaign against the drug menace is being carried out aggressively by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the office with the constitutional mandate to lead the war on drugs, together with the Philippine National Police. But the crackdown on corruption is facing stiff resistance.

In the latest report of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, “pervasive” corruption was cited as one of the major barriers in trading with the Philippines. Specifically cited in the 2018 National Trade Estimate Report of Foreign Trade Barriers was the Bureau of Customs, along with local government agencies, other national offices as well as regulators and judicial courts.

The USTR reiterated a concern raised in its report the previous year over “the propensity of Philippine courts and regulators to stray beyond matters of legal interpretation into policymaking, as well as the lack of transparency in judicial and regulatory processes.”

Magistrates can be bribed and temporary restraining orders issued by the courts “impede legitimate commerce,” the USTR reported. Apart from undue delays in customs processing and valuation irregularities, officials demand “unrecorded facilitation fees,” the USTR added.

American businessmen aren’t the only ones complaining about corruption and delays in the Bureau of Customs, other national government agencies and local government units. The problems cited by the USTR have also been raised for many years now by both local business groups and the foreign chambers representing other countries and regions.

Corruption is one of the issues that have made the country rank low in ease of doing business and lag behind several of its neighbors in attracting foreign direct investments. President Duterte has often publicly acknowledged the gravity of the problem and vowed to deal with it. As his second year draws to a close, he will have to take more decisive action to make some headway in this war.

Source: https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/04/02/1801886/editorial-trade-barriers

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