Worldwide, out of 190 countries evaluated in the World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business report, for the category, “Trading Across Borders,” the Philippines is ranked 95. Within the 10 states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the archipelago takes 5th place. The Asean scores were as follows: Singapore, 89.30%; Malaysia, 82.38%; Thailand, 84.10%; Vietnam, 69.92%; Philippines, 69.39%; Cambodia, 67.28%; Indonesia, 65.87%; Brunei, 57.69%; Laos, 62.98%; Myanmar, 47.40%.
A middling performance then – but the Philippines could certainly do better. And one area where that needs to happen is with the notorious Bureau of Customs, long-regarded as the most corrupt and one of the laziest departments of government. Costs for goods entering and laving the Philippines dwarf those elsewhere in Asean.
We’ll give just a couple of country examples. The cost of exporting a shipment of goods from the Philippines is US$456 as opposed to Singapore, US$335 and Vietnam, US$309. Similarly the cost of importing a shipment of good to the Philippines is US$580, compared to Singapore US$220 and Vietnam, US$392. That certainly won’t help the local producers and shippers of goods nor will it help local consumers of imported products. So once more the Philippines has made it difficult for itself to be competitive as a trading nation.