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Pakistan, Philippines to discuss rice import limits
Dow Jones Newswires, June 30, 2004
The Philippines expects to begin negotiations next month with four trading partners on continuing the Philippines’ rice import restrictions, a senior government official said Monday.

Last week, Argentina formally informed the World Trade Organization of its intention to negotiate with the Philippines on the issue, Gregorio Tan, deputy administrator of the National Food Authority and lead negotiator for the Philippines, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Aside from Argentina, Thailand, Pakistan and Australia also have notified the WTO of their intention to engage the Philippines in bilateral talks regarding the Philippines’ desire to maintain quantitative restrictions on rice imports.

Mr Tan said the Philippines’ representatives in Geneva, where the WTO is headquartered, are arranging the schedule of negotiations with these countries. Bilateral negotiations may start in July, Mr Tan said.

In April, the Philippines filed before the WTO its intention to extend its restrictions on rice imports. Under the WTO’s Uruguay Round, the Philippines’ restrictions on rice imports will expire June 30 next year.

By maintaining restrictions on the volume of rice imports, the government is able to set a limit on the country’s annual rice import volumes.

Lifting the restrictions would allow unlimited entry of rice as long as importers pay a tariff.

Rice exporting WTO members are expected to press for the opening of the country’s rice market or ask for concessions in exchange for the retention of the restrictions.

The Philippines is the only other Asian country aside from South Korea that still maintains volume restrictions on rice imports. For 2004, Philippine rice imports are expected to reach 925,000 metric tons.
MGR Archive 30.6.2004
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