PH joins WTO Ministerial Conference

THE Philippines is advocating the interests of fisherfolk, farmers and the health sector at the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

In a statement on Monday, DTI said Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Fermin D. Adriano are co-heading the Philippine Delegation participating in the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) being held at WTO headquarters from June 12 to 15, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Ministerial Conference, which was postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is taking on several critical issues such as concluding the Fisheries Subsidies negotiations, a Ministerial Decision on Agriculture, Ministerial Declarations on Trade and Health and TRIPS waiver, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Work Program on E-Commerce, WTO Modernization and Reform, MSME’s, and Trade and Gender, among others.

The Philippines, through a pre-recorded statement by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez for the plenary session, underscored the importance of achieving outcomes on fisheries subsidies and agriculture.

“The conclusion of the fisheries subsidies negotiations not only show that the WTO can deliver on its mandate to address harmful fishery subsidies in this instance but also will provide much needed impetus for the WTO to demonstrate its capacity to address climate change and environmental degradation head on,” said Lopez.

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“In addition, an outcome on agriculture is indispensable at MC12 if we are to chart a pathway to credible long-term food security and development as the WTO Membership charts a way forward to an ambitious agriculture work program toward MC13,” he added.

Lopez also stressed the importance of building a more credible and forward-looking WTO that will be ready to address new pandemics, while becoming an institution prepared to meet the exigencies of the innovating global economy.

“We must be ambitious in advancing our initiatives to develop new rules on e-commerce, facilitate MSMEs participation in the global value chains, and facilitate investment for development. The Philippines supports steady steps toward institutional change and adaptation so that we guarantee a robust and relevant multilateral trading system in the decades ahead,” he said.

Prior to the delegation’s participation in MC12, the DTI, DA and the Department of Foreign Affairs conducted a series of consultative meetings with relevant stakeholders including government agencies, the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives, and Civil Society Organizations.

These consultations were carried out to provide all concerned parties with opportunities to express their concerns with respect to the issues in MC12.

DTI said that during the consultations, government and civil society converged on the importance of Philippines’ prioritizing three areas for this conference: Food and Agriculture — including on insisting on the Doha Development Agenda; TRIPS and Public Health as a means to ensure Health security; and Fishery Subsidies including on the need to provide flexibility for small fisherfolk.