By Golda Kristy Grospe | Market Innovation Division | DTI-Export Marketing Bureau

02 February 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

WITH the implementation of the Philippines-European Free Trade Association free-trade agreement (PHL-EFTA FTA), exporters are advised to take full advantage of the benefits of the agreement.

Under the PHL-Efta FTA, all industrial products from the Philippines are granted duty-free market access to the members of Efta—Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The Philippines also enjoys significant concessions on agricultural exports of its interest.

Opportunities for Philippine exports truly abound in Efta as all member-states have developed economies and rank high in terms of competitiveness, wealth creation per inhabitant, life expectancy and quality of life.

Aside from the preferential tariff treatment, more liberal rules of origin are laid out in the PHL-Efta FTA compared with the other FTAs. The agreement allows goods produced from raw materials sourced overseas to claim originating status as long as the non-originating components undergo sufficient working or processing in the Philippines.

Administrative procedures are likewise eased under the PH-Efta FTA. Instead of securing a Certificate of Origin from the Bureau of Customs to avail themselves of preferential tariffs, exporters only need to issue an Origin Declaration (OD). It is a one-paragraph declaration in a commercial document sufficient to ascertain the originating status of goods that can be completed in an invoice, packing list, delivery note or any other relevant commercial document.

Exporters are classified into approved exporter and non-approved exporter under the PH-Efta FTA. An approved exporter is given a unique authorization number that replaces his signature on the OD. A non-approved exporter is still required to affix his signature on the document.

Exporters are greatly encouraged to secure an approved exporter accreditation to further expedite trade with Efta and lower the risk of retro-verification. It merely entails one-time application at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) that is free of charge. 

Interested parties may send a letter of intent to the BOC Export Coordination Division, either in writing or electronically, together with the following documents—a) Latest Income Tax Return; b) Unique Reference Number as Peza locators and Client Profile Registration System for non-Peza locators; c) Business Permit/s; d) Securities and Exchange Commission/ Department of Trade and Industry registration, where applicable; e) List of products applied for authorization to make invoice declaration; and f) Product Evaluation Report.

The complete guidelines on the implementation of the PHL-Efta FTA, as specified in Customs Memorandum Order 14-2018, may be viewed here.

Trade data and market profiles of the Efta member-states may be accessed at