D.T.I. still hopes to get Thailand to heed W.T.O. ruling on cigarettes

By Samuel P. Medenilla Dec 5 2019 / Business Mirror

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Wednesday announced it will be making a last-ditch effort this month to persuade Thailand, to recognize the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling invalidating Thai customs and fiscal measures on cigarettes from Manila.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said he will personally write a letter this month to his Thai counterpart ,hoping this will convince the Thai government to finally align its policies for cigarettes it imports from the Philippines with that of the WTO.

“The general tone is enjoining them to comply with the WTO [ruling]. We all have to subscribe to the rule. Otherwise, we will look into other recourse measures that will be available for us,” Lopez told reporters at the sidelines of the “One Country, One Voice Forum,” in Makati.

He said they will defer any WTO-sanctioned retaliatory measure against Thailand until he receives the response from his Thai counterpart.

While waiting for the reply, Trade Undersecretary Cerefino S. Rodolfo said they are now coordinating with the WTO, as well as studying the recent decision of the Thai court, which found Philip Morris, which sources its cigarettes from the Philippines, guilty of tax evasion.

He said these will become their basis for imposing possible retaliatory measure, which may be in the form of imposing tariffs on some Thai products.

DTI earlier said it is eyeing to slap tariffs on Thai cars to retaliate for Thailand’s resistance to the WTO ruling.

Lopez said they hope it will not reach that point, especially since they consider Thailand an “Asean brother” and a valuable trade partner.

Rodolfo, however, said they will continue to pursue the enforcement of the WTO ruling to protect the interest of the local tobacco farmers and importers it affected.

The Philippine-Thailand trade dispute stemmed from Bangkok’s decision in 2008 to implement customs and fiscal measures on cigarettes from the Philippines.

The government questioned the move before the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, which ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2011.

The case remains unresolved up to the present even after multiple failed appeals by the Thai government of the WTO ruling.

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