Withholding permits not the solution

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    The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said a proposal to restrict rice importation by suspending issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) to rice importers during harvest time may be in violation of the the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) as well as the non-discriminatory provisions of the World Trade Organization.

    FFF was reacting to the proposal of Senate committee on agriculture chairman Cynthia Villar to the Department of Agriculture.

    FFF said the government can only withhold issuance of such SPSICs if there is a risk that imported rice will infest local crops or harm consumers.

    Raul Montemayor, FFF national manager, said such proposal will expose the Philippines to complaints from exporting countries as well as legal cases from private importers for unduly restricting imports.

    The group espouses the imposition of safeguard duties to stem the surge in rice imports. — Jed Macapagal