PH trade policy undergoes WTO review

PH trade policy undergoes WTO review


The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) led an inter-agency delegation to represent the Philippines for its Fifth Trade Policy Review by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, the Philippines’ chief negotiator at the WTO, in a statement said that an inter-agency delegation headed by DTI Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo appeared before the WTO Trade Policy Review Body in Geneva, Switzerland on March 26 to March 28 for the Philippines’ Fifth Trade Policy Review.

Rodolfo was joined by senior officials from the DTI, Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Finance, Department of Labor and Employment, Board of Investments, National Food Authority, Food and Drug Administration, Intellectual Property Office, and the Government Procurement and Policy, as well as officers from the Philippine Mission to the WTO.

The WTO, to which the Philippines has been a member since 1995, conducts individual member trade policy reviews, an exercise in which member countries’ trade and related policies are examined and evaluated regularly.

For developing countries like the Philippines, the review is conducted once every six years. Substantial developments that may have an impact on the global trading system are also monitored. The last Philippine review was conducted in 2012.

“This fifth trade policy review will be an opportunity not only to highlight the country’s impressive economic growth but also to share critical policy reforms and aggressive infrastructure program being undertaken by the Duterte Administration. It also signals that the Philippine government is actively engaging the international community, self-confident in the policies we are implementing,” Lopez said before the review commenced.

The meeting in Geneva is the culmination of an intensive process that began last year with the preparation of a report on Philippine trade policy by the WTO Secretariat, which was supplemented by a counterpart Philippine government report submitted in December 2017.

Ahead of the meeting in Geneva, 22 countries (including US and China) have submitted questions covering a wide range of trade and economic issues such as developments in the Philippines’ tariff structure, restrictions on investments, import licensing requirements, and the rice tariffication process. Some questions which were not directly related to trade were also received, such as on gender equality and visa availments.

“The review process, while allowing other WTO Members to seek clarification on our domestic policies, presented a good opportunity for national agencies to reflect internally on our trade and investment regime in the context of our commitment to the WTO and more importantly our greater objective to make trade more inclusive so that, as President Rodrigo Duterte has clearly and repeatedly articulated, no one is left behind.” Rodolfo said.

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