The Philippines is now looking at the possibility of using a trade remedy available to World Trade Organization (WTO) members in stopping the downtrend in rice prices that has been hurting Filipino farmers since the Rice Tariffication Law was implemented.
In an advisory of the WTO, the multilateral trading body said the Philippines has initiated last September 11 a preliminary safeguard investigation on rice.
Manila notified the WTO Committee on Safeguard of its action last September 13.
“[I]interested parties are requested to submit their comments and position on this matter thru the Policy Research Service (PRS), 3rd Floor, Department of Agriculture, Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City, 1100, within five (5) days from the date of publication of this notice. For inquiries and other details, please contact the PRS at tel. nos. (02) 926-7439, 920-4084 or at fax no. 928-9590 an email address: [email protected],” the WTO said in its advisory.
A safeguard investigation seeks to determine whether increased imports of a product are causing, or is threatening to cause, serious injury to a domestic industry. During a safeguard investigation, importers, exporters and other interested parties may present evidence and views and respond to the presentations of other parties.
A WTO member may take a safeguard action (i.e. restrict imports of a product temporarily) only if the increased imports of the product are found to be causing, or threatening to cause, serious injury.
The latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed said rice prices in the country have dropped by an average of 5.2 percent in August 2019 compared to the same month last year. This was the fourth consecutive month of deflation for rice.
The record-low inflation rate was largely due to the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law, or Republic Act (RA) 11203. The new policy replaced the quantitative restriction scheme in the importation of rice.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the former chief of the DA, said the massive inflow of imported rice “has boxed out local farmers producing ordinary rice from the market resulting in very low farm gate prices, to as low as P10 to P12 in many parts in Mindanao.”