"We should support and maintain an open, fair, predictable, transparent and rules-based multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez conveyed to his fellow trade ministers as he recalled the importance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the Informal WTO Ministerial Meeting held in Shanghai, China on 05 November 2019.
The Philippines urged members to work hard to conclude by December 2019 the negotiations on fisheries subsidies to address the problem on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).
Secretary Lopez emphasized the importance of the fisheries sector in the country, lamenting that other countries’ fisheries subsidies lead to overcapacity and overfishing, threatening Filipino fisher folks’ livelihood. He called on large-subsidizing countries on agriculture sector to phase out their subsidies to level the playing field.
Secretary Lopez urged the members of the WTO to revisit their commitments since the 2017 Ministerial Conference (MC) in Buenos Aires and to assess and manifest the policy-based give-and-take that will be essential to enhance the chances of success as WTO members gear up for MC12 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in June 2020.
On the other trade areas and initiatives, the Philippines expressed its support and openness to engage on the discussions on topics relevant to the changing global economy, specifically, on e-commerce, services domestic regulation, MSMEs, and investment facilitation for development.
With the difficulties in moving forward multilateral trade negotiations at the WTO, proposals to reform and modernize the trade rules are being explored and discussed by Members. In particular, Secretary Lopez took the opportunity to inform participating trade ministers to prioritize the selection process of the Appellate Body (AB) member to preserve the WTO Dispute Settlement System, being the only one of its kind in the world and to explore features of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) particularly on mediation and arbitration.
Meanwhile, the principle of special and differential treatment (S&D) in the WTO is a very important tool to facilitate development and enable the developing and least-developed countries to participate in the inclusive globalization of trade.
The Philippines expressed that the WTO should be able to arrive at objective development indicators and/or indices that reflect a country’s genuine economic development level but not inclining towards simplistic formulations of determination of development status.
“I urge Members to discuss the application of Special and Differential Treatment to deserving developing country Members for the multilateral trading system to be truly credible and relevant,” said Secretary Lopez as he closed his statement at the meeting in Shanghai.♦
Philippine Department of Trade & Industry | November 2019