Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez cited the country’s priorities in the WTO meeting which include eliminating trade-distorting domestic support and export subsidies, special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for agriculture, and a Ministerial decision on micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) work program considering development levels of countries.
Lopez said in order to have a global fair trade, trade-distorting domestic support by developed and developing countries retaining domestic support entitlements as well as the elimination of all forms of export subsidies must be substantially reduced, if not, eliminated.
As the country’s chief negotiator in the WTO, Lopez will bat for inclusive global trade that will encourage participation of MSMEs in the global value chain.
“The Philippines places great importance on the role of MSMEs in promoting inclusive growth. However, we believe that even among MSMEs, competition needs to be fair among them — as what may be medium-sized enterprises in a developed country, may already be a large company in a developed country,” he added.
“Thus, we are pushing for a discussion on a comparable definition of MSMEs,” he said.
The trade chief said the Philippines will seek appropriate arrangement within the existing framework of the WTO and relevant committees like the creation of a Working Group under the General Council studying the impact and benefits of the multilateral trading system to MSMEs and considering the needs and interests of the MSMEs depending on the levels of development of each country.
Lopez also backs the agenda of the Department of Agriculture to ensure SSM for agriculture.
“SSM would allow developing countries to temporarily increase tariffs on agriculture products in cases of import surges or price declines,” the DTI chief said.
“It prevents irreversible injury to very vulnerable farmers against price volatility. It also serves to balance large subsidies given to agricultural products in rich countries,” he added.
Lopez said the country is also pushing for the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), the Ministerial Declaration in Doha, Qatar in 2001, to remain as the overall framework for WTO negotiations.
He highlighted the recognition of the Declaration that “trade can play a major role in the promotion of economic development and the alleviation of poverty”.
Lopez said the DDA pushes for “the need to provide discipline on the subsidies being given by developed countries to their agriculture and provide more effective temporary protection from price volatilities to poor vulnerable farmers”. –PNA