THE PHILIPPINES was singled out as a “regional leader” within ASEAN in curtailing illicit trade and piracy, the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) said.
“Strengthening interagency and interdepartmental cooperation is essential in the fight against illicit trade,” TRACIT said in its “Fighting Fakes, Contraband and Illicit Trade: Spotlight on The Philippines” report.
It added that the Philippines is also a leader in promoting domestic cooperation, particularly in intellectual property coordination, because of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and the 15-member National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR).
The report said that the collaboration of NCIPR-affiliated agencies helped the Philippines remain off the US Trade Representative Special 301 Watchlist starting in 2014.
TRACIT is an independent, private sector initiative seeking to mitigate the economic and social damage caused by illicit trade and works to strengthen government enforcement mechanisms.
It presented the global illicit trade report at the IP Enforcement Summit organized by IPOPHL.
In a global illicit trade index commissioned by TRACIT, the Philippines ranked 64th out of 94 countries.
The Philippines had an overall score of 49 out of 100, slightly above the ASEAN average of 46 points, but below the global average of 60.
The Philippines registered the strongest performance in the transparency and trade metric, where it ranked 24th, followed by supply and demand (55th), and customs environment (60th).
“While there’s room for improvement across all categories, significant efforts are required in the Government Policy category, where perceptions of corruption and limited compliance with FATF (Financial Action Task Force) standards lower its overall performance,” TRACIT said.
According to TRACIT, the illicit economy in the Philippines is driven by its proximity to major Asian economies such as China, corruption, weak regulatory and enforcement systems, widespread smuggling, tax evasion, and insufficient deterrent effect of existing sanctions.
The country report said that the tax evasion and tax-related crimes are estimated to cost the Philippines over P300 billion in revenue annually. The country was also singled out as frequently ranking among the 20 countries with the highest levels of illicit financial flows.
“These flows are often deeply connected to underlying illicit trade and represent a substantial loss of billions of dollars in tax revenue, undermining economic growth, exacerbating poverty and inequality, and weakening governance and public institutions,” it added.
To curb illicit trade, TRACIT said that the Philippines must strengthen its customs environment, cooperation with neighbors, enforcement of intellectual property rights, the severity of criminal penalties, and controls on money laundering, among others. — Justine Irish D. Tabile