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PHL backs continued freeze on some e-commerce duties

THE PHILIPPINES declared its support for extending a moratorium on customs duties imposed on media goods ordered via electronic commerce (e-commerce).

In a statement on Thursday, Trade Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty said during the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference that e-commerce is crucial to the post-pandemic recovery.

“There is a need to maintain a stable and predictable digital trading environment not only for big businesses but especially for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and women entrepreneurs to boost economic growth,” Mr. Gepty said.

The Philippines also noted that e-commerce helps integrate MSMEs into the global value chain and facilitates cross-border trade in goods and services.

The Philippines co-sponsored a draft Ministerial Decision aiming to strengthen the WTO’s e-commerce work program, which “will have significant impact on members, including developing and least developed countries,” Mr. Gepty said.

Separately, Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said an advantage of a stable and predictable online environment is that it would help boost the Philippines’ position as an innovation hub and an attractive location for hyperscale data centers.

“The Philippines has a robust e-commerce industry and to boost the same, the government has released the e-commerce roadmap 2022 to create an integrated ecosystem that would become the foundation of all industries’ developments, long-term employment, and inclusive growth throughout the country,” the DTI said.  

WTO members agreed on the moratorium in 1998 but it was never made permanent and legally binding. It has been renewed several times during Ministerial Conferences. It affects products such as photographic film, cinematographic film, printed matter, music, media, software, and video games.

The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference was held from June 12 to 15 in Geneva. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave 

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