Customs red tape hobbling Filipina entrepreneurs

While women entrepreneurs in the Philippines are supported by policies conducive to doing business, bottlenecks like bureaucratic red tape still hampered many women traders from pushing beyond the country’s borders, according to the World Bank.

Citing an earlier report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank said that “the Philippines has a strong policy foundation for women’s entrepreneurship development, especially for women’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises” or MSMEs.

​​In its Jan. 10 report titled “The Philippines: Trade Facilitation Challenges for Women Traders and Customs Brokers,” the World Bank pointed to two enabling laws: the Magna Carta for Women, which the lender noted covered the “right to livelihood, credit, capital and technology” to business; as well as the Go Negosyo Act, which established business support centers encouraging women entrepreneurship.

However, a phone survey conducted by the World Bank among trade firms and customs brokers from June to September 2021 showed that 28 percent of women respondents pointed to “bureaucratic and burdensome border processes as their top challenge to further expanding their business to international markets.”

Both men and women traders and brokers also lamented delays in clearing goods at customs, especially with pandemic restrictions in place. Trade volumes also dipped due to lower demand amid the pandemic-induced economic slump.

Across all respondents, “about half of traders and customs brokers believe that port working hours are restrictive to their business operations and ability to trade,” the survey showed.

It did not help that “almost one-quarter of traders and more than one-third of customs brokers report facing difficulties finding information on official regulations related to border processes and procedures,” while “around one-third of traders and customs brokers find that guidance and explanations on penalties and how to make official appeals are not clear or easy to access across government entities,” the World Bank said. 

This article was originally posted on Business Inquirer and written by Ben O. De Vera

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