Domingo Backtracks on MFN Rates

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MANILA, Philippines - Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo has backtracked from an earlier pronouncement that he would favor to keep a minimal one percent tariff on most favored nation (MFN) tariffs that are scheduled to go down to zero after several objections.Domingo told reporters there have been many objections to keep a one percent rate on MFN tariff lines to cover for administrative cost because such imports are already scheduled to go down to zero by next year. MFN tariffs refer to the rates imposed on imports from countries outside of ASEAN and other countries where the Philippines and ASEAN have no existing regional or bilateral trade agreements."We have to weigh not just the cost of administering the imports but also the country's reputation under the World Trade Organization," he said.Earlier, Domingo said the government will have to keep a minimal tariff of one percent on all most-favored nation (MFN) tariff lines, whose rates are scheduled to go down to zero already in light of the government's efforts to save every penny possible to help shore up revenues.The Tariff Commission is now in the midst of a comprehensive tariff review as the current Comprehensive Tariff Program (CTP) covering HS 1-97 of the Tariff and Customs Code is only up to December 31, 2010.The commission had earlier indicated that existing MFN tariffs covering 11,490 tariff lines with rates ranging from 0 to 65 percent are mostly likely to be carried over the next four years or until 2015.The results of the comprehensive tariff review would determine if the tariff rates on 11,490 tariff lines, which rates were set during the last Comprehensive Tariff Reform Program (CTRP) issued by President Gloria Arroyo on November 4, 2006 Executive Order 574, would be maintained, reduced or increased. …