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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     11 October  2011                       

Philippines seeks rice quota extension

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The Philippines will negotiate for another three-year extension of the quantitative restriction on rice, which will expire by July 2012, the Department of Agriculture said on Monday.

Following a meeting of the National Food Authority Council, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters that the government this week will inform the World Trade Organization of Manila’s plan to extend the QR on rice until 2015.

Alcala said the government would start discussions and lobbying with other Asean members. The government is pushing for the extension of the QR, citing the need to prepare Filipino farmers for international trade and to achieve rice self-sufficiency. An extension of the QR will allow the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the government every year, preventing the influx of cheap rice from other countries. Under WTO rules, the country must formally inform the organization of its intention, allowing the negotiation to commence.

Rice producing countries, particularly China, India and Pakistan, earlier objected to or sought concessions from the Philippines in exchange for endorsing Manila’s request for an extension of the QR. For the Philippines to get the nod on the extension, rice-producing countries affected by the restriction can request for concessions/market access for the import of certain products—not limited to rice.

During the previous QR extension, Manila had agreed to increase its minimum access volume for rice to about 350,000 metric tons, and reduced tariffs to 40 percent from the previous 50 percent.

MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter the Philippines at reduced tariffs.

But for the new round of negotiations, one option that Manila may offer is the lowering of the 40 percent tariff on rice imports to about 35 percent, Alcala said.

The DA chief said the NFA Council has decided to defer discussion on the possible rice imports for 2012.

“We will wait for the official figures on the damage of typhoons Pedring and Quiel before we decide on our import targets next year. Probably by November, we will start discussions on the import volume,” Alcala said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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