NGO hits US for 'blocking' PHL's bid to extend rice protection


Jennifer A. Ng

Dec. 4, 2012


A NON-GOVERNMENT organization (NGO) has criticized the United States for allegedly blocking the request of the Philippines to extend a special protection on rice traded under the World Trade Organization (WTO).


According to Philippine government representatives, the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods failed to arrive at a decision on the Philippines’s bid to extend the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice due to concerns raised by a “few influential members.”


“We are alarmed that the US appeared to be bent on blocking our QR request, while other nations that [previously] raised reservations are now agreeable to it. [The QR] is important in our bid to achieve rice self-sufficiency in 2013. Allowing liberal importation will surely hamper our farmers’ motivation to produce more for our domestic needs,” said Aurora Regalado, convener of the Rice Watch Action Network (R1), in a statement.


R1 campaigned for the extension of QR on rice in 2005, citing the unfair competition caused by the free influx of imported rice, aggravating the poor state of local farmers and the local rice industry while the country continued to struggle for rice self-sufficiency.


The government has been working on the QR with its goal to achieve rice self-sufficiency in 2013.

The group lauded the government for this resolve as poor farmers strive to uplift their livelihood and contribute to developing the local rice industry.


“While the QR for rice is important, it is equally essential to ensure the judicious implementation of other interventions, such as the National Food Authority’s [NFA] procurement of a significant portion of local palay [unhusked rice] at a higher price than the market rates, irrigation facilities, investments in post-harvest facilities, affordable credit to finally get us to our dream of self-sufficiency,” said Jaime Tadeo, spokesman of the National Rice Farmers Council.


The QR on rice under the WTO allows the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the Philippine government through the NFA.


The protection ended on June 30, but the WTO temporarily waived the lifting of rice QRs so that the Philippines could conduct bilateral talks with other countries after it requested an extension for another three to five years.


The Philippine delegation to the WTO noted that rice is the predominant staple in the Philippines and the primary source of employment for at least 2.4 million farmers, the majority of whom are small landholders.










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