RP starts hearings on lower tariff reduction for rice under AFTA Economy
15 June 2009


Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter

Business Mirror


http://www.business mirror.com. ph/home/economy/ 11774-rp- starts-hearings- on-lower- tariff-reduction -for-rice- under-afta. html

THE Philippinegovernmen t has started public hearings on the possible reduction of tariffs for rice under a free-trade scheme among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


In its notice posted on its web site, the Tariff Commission has scheduled a public hearing today, Tuesday, to determine the “tariff-reduction modality” for rice under the Asean-Free Trade Area-Comprehensive Effective Preferential Treatment (AFTA-CEPT).


The Tariff Commission said this is in compliance with the “phasing-in” of rice from the “highly sensitive list” (HSL) to the inclusion list.


Earlier, the Department of Agriculture (DA) noted that rice will be spared from tariff cuts, at least for two years. Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, however, could not say if the government would call for a delay in the implementation of the reduction of tariffs.


Currently, rice is slapped a tariff of 40 percent. Under the AFTA-CEPT scheme, the Philippines is supposed to bring down this tariff rate by 2012. The government has not yet determined the rate that will be imposed by then.


The Rice Watch Action Network (R1) expressed concern over the possibility of reduced tariffs for rice under the AFTA-CEPT scheme.


R1 said Filipino farmers would not be able to compete against Thailand and Vietnam, where rice farmers are adequately supported and are efficient in producing rice.


Under the AFTA-CEPT scheme, tariffs for farm products, except rice that are traded among Asean members, would go down to between 0 and 5 percent.


AFTA is a trading agreement originally signed by six members of the ASEAN, namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, in 1992.


The free-trade arrangement seeks to increase Asean’s competitive edge as production base in the world market through the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.



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