FTA reiterates position on NAMA, tariff lines

By Angelo S. Samonte
Published on the February 24, 2007 issue of the Manila Times

Fair Trade Alliance, a broad coalition of NGOs from the agriculture and industrial manufacturing sector, said it does not believe that the breakthrough announced by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy is achievable within months.

Wigberto Tañada, the lead convener of FTA, said Lamy did not mention any timetable when the United States would slash subsidies for its agriculture sector.

Tañada said: “We don’t believe in his pronouncements because those are too vague. We want specific concessions from the developed countries, particularly from the US, by cutting huge farm support. He didn’t explain how big the cuts would be. Would it be on staggered basis? When will be the final elimination?”

In a separate statement, FTA reiterates its position in the ongoing Nonagricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations, particularly in determining the coefficient for the adoption of the Swiss formula for the tariff cuts.

“We propose a target of 50 percentage points, or minimum of 35, because having gone over various simulations prepared by the Tariff Commission and Board of Investments, we believe that targeting a coefficient of 50 will maximize the current policy space of NAMA tariff lines whose average bound rates is pegged at 23 percent,” it said.

“We also propose the adoption of a mark-up of 50 or a minimum of 35, to provide flexibilities for the treatment of unbound tariff lines, considered to be sensitive and instrumental to economic development.

The FTA also supports the inclusion of sensitive products in the exclusion list, saying that the proposed minimum of 10 percent of total tariff lines will be good for the Philippines: “The FTA firmly stands for the preservation of the current policy space and work towards the development of a roadmap for industrial policy harmonization and upgrading that will make our industries more globally competitive.”

Reacting to Lamy’s visit to the Philippines, the Tambuyog Development Center, an NGO for fishery sector development said the WTO must reconsider the positions of developing countries by focusing negotiations to export distorting support instead of market access.

Tambuyog said talks should also include subsidies being given to industries in more developed countries rather than tackling market access issues that only favor industrialized countries.

Besides these issues, Tambuyog said the global trade body must recognize the need for protection of less developed countries, particularly their sensitive sectors through the use of special products (SP) and special safeguard mechanism (SSM).

would be detrimental for our industries that remain weak that’s why we should seek more protection,” Tañada said.

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