You are on page 1of 2

PHL under pressure from trade partners in WTO negotiations

The Philippines is under pressure from trade partners to open its market to their goods in exchange for supporting a request before the World Trade Organization to extend a special restriction on rice imports to shield palay farmers from an influx of the commodity which expired in June 2012. Specifically, the Philippines is struggling with a request from Thailand. Thailand is ... also requesting a guaranteed purchase of their allocation which is, of course, against our procurement law, Agriculture Undersecretary for Policy Segfredo Serrano told reporters at the sidelines of the Philippine Economic Briefing in Pasay City on Tuesday. Even with government-to-government, there must be a bidding," Serrano said. The problem is that the quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice importations already expired, according to the Agriculture official. "If we will still have a QR, we will have the decision on the volume that we will allow into the country, he said. But if we have a commitment like the minimum access volume, we cannot deny access but it does not mean that there will be a guaranteed purchase. If, for example, the rice will not be profitable to traders, the government will be compelled to buy that. And that is against our procurement law," Serrano added. What Thailand wants, in exchange for supporting the Philippines at WTO, is a higher countryspecific quota (CSQ) under minimum access volume (MAV) and a guaranteed that that Philippines will buy its its allocation, according to the Agriculture official. The Philippines is scheduled to report in October on the progress of negotiations with WTO member-states on its request for extending the QR on rice imports to 2017. Apart from Thailand, the Philippine is also engaging China, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Australia, Canada, United States, and El Salvador in dialogs regarding its request. On top of that, non-traditional sources of rice like Pakistan, United States and El Salvador are part of the dialog. As WTO members, these countries hold the right to provide an opinion on Philippine trade commitments.

El Salvador is negotiating for minimal access to the Philippine market for its rice, Serrano said. "We need to give due course to all interested parties," he added. Other countries are seeking access for farm produce. Still, others want a higher allocation under the country-specific rice importation quota to the Philippine market. In the case of Vietnam, the Agriculture Department sees little problem with its request for an allocation under the country-specific rice importation quota of the minimum access volume (MAV). "With Vietnam, there is not much problem. We are deliberating on that," Serrano noted. "But we should agree on the number (volume allocation)," he added. US and Australia want access for meat, poultry, vegetables, and fruit products into the Philippines. VS, GMA News