DTI Directed to Go Full-Blast on Trade Liberalization Pledges

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Malacañang has directed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to go "full steam ahead" in the country's trade liberalization commitments saying that delaying trade liberalization would only penalize local consumers and manufacturers.Jose Antonio S. Buencamino, DTI assistant secretary for foreign trade service corps, told reporters that President Gloria Arroyo made this instruction to the DTI during a Cabinet meeting last May 18 in General Santos City."The President's instruction was 'full steam ahead' otherwise delaying the trade liberalization would only make it more expensive for our people and manufacturers," Buencamino said quoting the President.Earlier, DTI Secretary Peter B. Favila was instructed by Malacañang to assess the country's international trade commitments.With Malacañang's instruction, Favila has conducted consultations with domestic industries."It's not appropriate for us to go against the commitments or what we already have," Favila said echoing Malacañang’s statement.The Philippines has several international commitments including the World Trade Organization, bilateral with the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement and other regional deals inclding the ASEAN Free Trade Area.Both ASEAN and JPEPA will start zero tariffs next year.However, multisectoral groups led by the Fair Trade Alliance have called for the suspension of any government plan to further reduce tariff for the commodity sector namely swine, poultry, corn, rice and sugar. …