WTO  WANTS  RP  TO  STAY  CLOSE  TO  ITS  TARIFF  COMMITMENTS

MANILA
, August 3
 (STAR) By Marianne V. Go - The World Trade Organization (WTO) wants the Philippines to stay close to its trade commitments by narrowing the gap between the applied Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff and the bound rates committed by the country to the world trade body.

This was reported by the Philippine delegation that attended the trade policy review held in Geneva in early July 2005.

Trade and Industry Senior Undersecretary Thomas Aquino led the Philippine delegation which included senior officials of line agencies that comprise the Technical Committee on WTO Matters (TCWM), namely the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Tariff Commission (TC), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Departments of Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry.

The Philippine team was assisted by the staff of the Philippine Mission to the WTO in Geneva led by Ambassador Manuel Teehankee.

While the WTO recognized the Philippines’ efforts at tariff liberalization, they also noted the recalibration of tariffs in 2003 in response to domestic clamor for tariff adjustments.

"The WTO is encouraging the Philippines to pursue more vigorously the opening up of its economy," Aquino said.

WTO members noted the gap between the applied MFN tariffs and the bound rates committed by the country to the WTO, particularly in the context of the development talks at the Doha Round of negotiations.

Applied rates are the actual tariff rates used and the bound rates are the allowable ceiling.

The much higher bound rates of the Philippines allows it some flexibility in adjusting tariff rates higher to respond to domestic needs for such industries as sugar and other agricultural products.

The WTO also expressed some concern over the country’s policy measures which appear inconsistent with the WTO. These include: discriminatory excise taxes applied to distilled spirits; restrictive quota/licensing system for fisheries products; and import prohibition used on imported vehicles.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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