By Franclem Peña | Export Assistance and Business Matching Division (EABMD) | DTI-Export Marketing Bureau

23 February 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

THERE is a growing prevalence on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution systems internationally. ADR is an out-of-court cost-effective way of settling conflicts, offering lower costs or in some cases, free of cost, shorter period for dispute resolutions, and in most cases, preservation of relationships. It covers different processes, including arbitration, conciliation and mediation, among others.

The Philippines institutionalized the use of an alternative resolution system in the country through Republic Act 9285 or the “Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004” which was enacted on April 2, 2004.

However, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had already established its export trade complaints resolution process, through mediation, even before the enactment of this law.

As the DTI is matching both Philippine-based exporters and foreign buyers, it also promotes ethical business practices to further enhance the image of the country as a reliable supplier for goods and services in the global market. But like other business endeavors, conflicts may also arise from export trade transactions, which if remains unresolved, will seriously affect the image of the Philippines as a reliable source of goods and services. Hence, the need for a speedy resolution of export trade complaints through out-of-court settlement process, particularly mediation.

Since its creation in 1993, free mediation service is being continuously offered to both exporters and foreign buyers by the Export Trade Complaints Committee (ETCC), a one-of-a-kind public-private partnership that still exists and operates until now.

The ETCC is composed of the director of the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau (formerly the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion) or his alternate as its chairman, with the director of DTI Legal Service (formerly Office of Legal Affairs) and a representative from the private sector, the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport), the umbrella organization of Philippine exporters, as members. The DTI-EMB Export Assistance and Business Matching Division (EABMD) serves as the ETCC Secretariat, which is composed of trained Mediation Officers.

The ETCC is governed by a DTI department administrative order creating said committee and prescribing the guidelines in the dispute resolution process. The DAO had undergone several revisions to address the recent developments in international trade and to further strengthen the DTI’s effectiveness in resolving export trade complaints.                

The process of revising the current DAO started in 2018, whereby a public consultation was conducted in order to engage the export industry stakeholders in crafting an effective and efficient trade dispute resolution mechanism. The revised DAO will be published and implemented this year.

The new DAO will only apply to disputes relating to export trade transactions involving exportable goods and services from the Philippines, including but not limited to (1) nonpayment of delivery; (2) nondelivery of paid order; (3) canceled letter of credit order; (4) short shipment; (5) noncompliance to quality specification; (6) unjustified nonperformance of contractual obligations.

All export trade complaints must be in writing and signed by the complainant, and may be in electronic document form. The complaint may be filed personally, by mail, or by electronic means. Copies of pertinent documents supporting the complaint must be attached to the complaint. Complaints may be filed with the DTI-EMB any DTI Office, DTI attached agencies, or the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers (PTIC) abroad.

ETCC findings are classified into: (1) Dismissed—if there is failure to substantiate the allegations of the complaint or lack of basis to hold respondent liable for the complaint; (2) Settled—if an amicable settlement between the parties was reached through the intervention of the ETCC; (3) Watch listing—notwithstanding the outcome of the mediation proceeding, watch listing may be effected based on the following grounds: (a) The respondent used a fictitious name or address; (b) The respondent is involved in two (2) or more export trade complaints; or (c) There is a substantial finding, based on past and present complaints, that the acts complained of would seriously affect the image of the Philippines as a reliable supplier of goods or services.

Copies of the DTI DAO on ETCC and the DTI Watchlist of Exporters and Foreign Buyers are available at and

The ETCC and its secretariat may be contacted through e-mail address: or office landline (+632) 465-3300 local 109 or 110.

Their office address is DTI Export Marketing Bureau, Ground Floor, DTI International Building, 375 Senator Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City, Philippines 1200.