April 23, 2018, 8:02 am
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PH scores win for MSMEs in WTO

The Philippines considers a victory the support gained at the World Trade Organization (WTO)  of the agenda towards inclusive and sustainable globalization by  including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)  in global trade.

The Philippines is  one of the main proponents of MSMEs chapter.

At the conclusion of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, WTO members accounting for around 78 percent of world exports issued a joint statement declaring their intention to create, multilaterally, an informal working group on MSMEs at the WTO that would be open to all members.

The discussion would address obstacles related to foreign trade operations that represent a significant burden for MSMEs interested in participating in international trade, a statement of the trade body said..

Ramon Lopez, secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and lead negotiator,  said in a statement while “the desire to make globalization more inclusive and sustainable gave traction to discussing MSMEs in the WTO.”

“While the topic has not yet gained full consensus or unanimous support from 164 countries, the group called Friends of MSMEs gained more supporters,” Lopez said. 

He added  from just about 19 supporters about two  years ago, it now has 87 countries as part of the Friends of MSMEs. 

Just in this concluded round, the circle gained five  new supporters, as we tried to meet at the sidelines more countries like Laos and Myanmar.

“The intention is to make MSMEs more globally competitive and supported so it can participate in the global trade,” he said. 

With  informal working group, a work program for MSMEs would be created. 

This would  address issues related to access to information, more stable and predictable business environment, lowering of transaction cost through better trade facilitation, shipping, logistics, procedures, origins, promotions, multilateral cooperation on trade finance, technical assistance and capacity building for MSMEs.

But in the area of agriculture, the WTO secretariat committed to study further the proposals on Special Safeguards system and run through u further deliberations with the Philippines and other WTO members to gain full acceptance of the whole body.

At the WTO, the Philippines also pushed  its strong position to remove trade-distorting export subsidies from other countries to protect the local farmers from subsidized imports that lead to import surge and local agriculture products’ price depression.

At The Philippines also emphasized the need to set-up a Special Safeguard mechanism that will protect the farmers from these unfair trade practices. Another option is to improve the current Special Safeguards (SSG) system by revising the outdated formula to one that will make the trigger price based on the average price for the three recent years instead of the original base of 1986 prices. 

“The intention is to protect farmers from unjust practices,’ Lopez said.

 Lopez said he and Agriculture Secretary Manny  Piñol arranged for a special meeting with WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo to discuss the best approach on how WTO can adopt and implement the elimination of trade-distorting domestic support and export subsidies as well as provide a SSM for affected farmers especially in developing and least developed countries.

In between the plenary fora, the Philippine officials also met with the leaders of the facilitation committee on agriculture to help carry forward these issues.
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