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WCO Boosts PH Customs with Time Release Study: In Focus

The World Customs Organization (WCO) undertook a mission between January 28th and February 2nd, 2023, to reaffirm multiple areas of collaboration aimed at enhancing the Bureau of Customs (BOC) capabilities in effectively executing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). This mission was part of the enduring and extensive Mercator Programme partnership, supported by the United Kingdom’s His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) through the Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme.

The focus of the WCO team was primarily on enhancing capacity for conducting a national Time Release Study (TRS) at the Port of Manila and implementing the WCO Immediate Release Guidelines at the Manila International Airport cargo area, in line with TFA Article 7.8 on Expedited Shipments. This article predominantly pertains to courier and express cargo shipments, which are crucial for fostering e-commerce. The mission built upon previous virtual capacity-building efforts provided to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in these areas.


To observe the current clearance process for courier cargo, the WCO mission visited two prominent global courier companies operating in the broader Manila region. Led by the BOC implementation team, the mission closely examined the clearance process to identify opportunities for further streamlining and digitalization of air cargo clearance. This initiative would also reduce reliance on hard copy paper printing and storage.

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Furthermore, recognizing that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has already conducted several Customs-focused Time Release Studies (TRS), the mission acted as a catalyst to include TRS on the agenda of the Philippines Trade Facilitation Committee. This committee brings together various governmental agencies and the private sector, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement.

The WCO delegation held strategic meetings with former Customs Commissioner Mr. Yogi Filemon Ruiz and the senior executive team of the BOC to review the progress made and reaffirm future collaboration areas under the Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme. Discussions centered around capacity building and technical assistance on measures outlined in the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and overarching BOC organizational development initiatives. These included Risk Management, TRS, Air Cargo streamlining, Integrity, National Customs Trade Facilitation Champions, Competency-based Human Resource Management, and Gender & Diversity. The BOC leadership reiterated its unwavering commitment to the partnership and achieving sustainable results for the economic prosperity of the Filipino people.

   Editor: Rod Villanueva

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