Philippines’ Trade Secretary to Lead Delegation to WTO Ministerial Conference

DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA
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Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual will lead the Philippine delegation in the upcoming 13th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from February 26 to 29. As the highest decision-making body of the WTO, the Ministerial Conference plays a crucial role in shaping global trade policies and resolving disputes.

It is important to note that the last Ministerial Conference (MC12) took place in June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. This year, Secretary Pascual will be accompanied by officials from the House of Representatives and various government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, and the Philippine Mission to the WTO in Geneva.

One of the key objectives for the Philippines at MC13 is to address the impasse in the WTO Appellate Body and work towards establishing a functioning dispute settlement system. Collaborating with other member countries, the Philippines aims to find solutions that will ensure a fair and effective resolution of trade disputes.

In addition to dispute settlement, the Philippines will champion reforms to enhance the WTO’s functions, notification, and transparency mechanisms. These reforms are crucial for promoting a level playing field in international trade and ensuring that all member countries have equal access to information and opportunities.

Furthermore, the Philippines is committed to achieving meaningful outcomes in agriculture negotiations. Specifically, the country seeks a permanent solution for public stockholding for food security purposes and an effective special safeguard mechanism for developing countries. These measures are vital for protecting the interests of vulnerable farmers and ensuring food security for the nation.

Recognizing the significance of the ongoing negotiations on fisheries subsidies, the Philippines is actively engaged in preparing for the second wave of discussions. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has organized briefing sessions to gather insights and perspectives from various stakeholders.

To ensure comprehensive representation, a joint briefing for Congress was conducted on February 8, followed by a briefing for non-governmental organizations and civil society groups on February 15. Representatives from organizations such as Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, Federation of Free Farmers, Federation of Free Workers, Nestle Philippines, and Agap Party-list, among others, participated in these sessions. These briefings provide an opportunity for diverse voices to be heard and considered in the decision-making process.

In conclusion, the Philippine delegation, led by Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual, is set to make significant contributions at the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. With a focus on reforms, dispute settlement, and achieving meaningful outcomes in agriculture and fisheries negotiations, the Philippines aims to shape global trade policies that are fair, transparent, and beneficial for all member countries. Through active participation and collaboration, the Philippines seeks to foster a conducive environment for international trade and economic growth.

Source: The Manila Times

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