Government told: be firm on safeguards
September 6, 2009


Top News
Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter


A FARMERS’ advocacy group has asked Malacañang to remain firm in maintaining substantial economic room for the Philippines and developing countries, and continue efforts to secure the safeguards meant to prevent a new global trade agreement from endangering the livelihood of Filipino farmers.


The Rice Watch Action Network (R1) said the Philippines could also consider taking the lead in securing a “significant remedy structure” for the Special Safeguard Mechanisms (SSM) for agricultural products at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“The burden to break the impasse lies on the United States and other G-7 countries,” said R1 lead convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos. “We would like to remind our negotiators to remain steadfast in defending the flexibilities afforded to the Philippines and other developing countries under the Doha Development Round.”


Cantos noted the Philippines has a low tariff rate or the maximum duty that can be imposed against an imported product, at 40 percent, which renders the Philippines vulnerable to import surges unless the SSM is in place.


The SSM as a flexibility measure for developing countries under the WTO will allow the imposition of additional duty on applied tariffs when the volume of imports shoots up or the prices of imported products abnormally go down, unfairly competing with local agricultural products. R1 expressed apprehension that the Group of 7 countries will consolidate their position to block the demand for greater protection of developing countries.


“We are calling on the Philippines and other Group of 33 [G-33] countries to hold their ground as they have proven to be a force to contend with when it comes to defending and pushing the developing economies’ interests,” said Cantos.


The informal talks held in New Delhi, India, was attended by 35 trade ministers from WTO member-countries. Talks wrapped up on September 4 and the ministers pledged to act swiftly to conclude the Doha Round of negotiations that started in 2001.





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