20% of Agri Tariff Lines Pushed as Special Products

Article excerpt

This was pressed by the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1), National Rice Farmers Council (NRFC) and United Broiler Raisers' Association in a press statement as trade negotiators gathered in Geneva for a "make or break" talks to conclude negotiations in the World Trade Organization.

Under the SP scheme, developing countries are allowed to designate a number of their agricultural products as SPs. These can have lesser tariff cuts than the regular formula cuts stated in the Market Access provision of the WTO.

"We call on our trade ministers to assert our right to designate at least 20 percent of our agricultural tariff lines as SPs and not the current proposal of 10-18 percent only," said

Georgie San Diego, President of United Broilers.

San Diego said that the G33, to which the Philippines is a party, has given up much of its basic positions since the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting in 2005 that is why their groups are calling on the G33 ministers to stay firm and united on the basic demands on SP and Special Safeguards Mechanism (SSM).

He added that developing countries should be exempted from tariff reduction but the current text allows only 6 percent of SPs, almost insignificant compared to the original proposal of the G33 which was 50 percent of SPs.

Imported chicken coming from the United States and Canada, not including smuggled chicken comprise nine percent of the Philippine market.

National Rice Farmers Council (NRFC) chairperson Jaime Tadeo said the latest draft modalities on agriculture present clear and present danger on the livelihood of the developing countries' poor and marginalized farm sector.

The Philippines is the world's top rice-importing country with its government set to import 2.1 million this year, the highest in recent years and with record high prices as well. Considered one of the impacts of high prices was the decision of exporting countries to restrict their exports to secure their own domestic supply.

"Developing countries that have nevertheless, liberalized food trade had no choice but to buy rice and other staple at very high costs. Indeed, unbridled importation of rice and other agriculture products is not the way to secure the food of the people in developing countries. Worse, it unfairly placed the local farmers at a disadvantage position with some developing countries giving up their vision to achieve food self-sufficiency," Tadeo explained. …