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Philippines to keep rice tariffs
Manila, April 5, 2004
THE PHILIPPINES has informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it will maintain its high tariffs on rice to protect its farm sector.

Edsel Custodio, the country's permanent representative to the WTO, said in his formal notice to the WTO Secretariat and other WTO members that the country was again invoking provisions of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture to maintain its quantitative restrictions (QRs) on rice imports.

Maintaining the country's QRs on rice imports means that the Philippines will prohibit the free-for-all importation of rice.

In addition, rice imports would be slapped a 100 percent tariff except for imports by the state-run trading firm National Food Authority to build the country's buffer stocks.

As a WTO member, the Philippines needs to negotiate and justify its plan to keep its QRs with other WTO members.

This is because tariff barriers such as QRs, including those for agriculture products, are scheduled to be removed by July 2005.

"Other rice-producing countries like Thailand, Vietnam and India, who are also rice exporters trying to penetrate our market, may impose certain conditions and trade-offs for the Philippines to maintain the QRs," explained Agriculture assistant secretary Segfredo Serrano, who is also a member of the RP negotiating team to the WTO.

Serrano noted that the Philippines had until June 2005 to conduct all its negotiation meetings to defend its tough stance to keep its QRs on rice.

Keeping the QRs on rice means that the Philippine government is slowing down its agriculture trade liberalization to ensure the viability of Filipino farmers especially those engaged in rice farming.

Rice is the country's staple food. Some 3.2 million Filipino farmers are involved in rice cultivation although local production is not enough to feed the country's growing population.
MGR Archive 5.4.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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