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NEWS UPDATES 27 October 2009

Philippines-Thailand rice talks hit roadblock

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The Philippines and Thailand failed to reach a compromise on the rice importation deal during bilateral talks on the sidelines of the 15h Asean Summit in Thailand, the Manila Bulletin reported.

Both sides however agreed to sit down again and try to reach an acceptable formula that should be agreed upon before January 1 when Asean expects to fully implement the Asean Free Trade Agreement.

Talks between leaders of the two countries took place here Saturday after Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo accepted 100 tons of rice from Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as his country’s donation to Filipinos hit by the two typhoon disasters that hit the Philippines recently.

Philippines Trade Secretary Peter Favila said that despite a stalemate in the rice deal, the two countries “are committed to work towards an acceptable formula.” “I made it clear to them that that is the best we can go,” Favila said, referring to the 35 percent tariff that the Philippines would impose on rice imports.

But Thailand has been insisting that Manila must honor its AFTA commitment by bringing down the common effective preferential tariffs (CEPT) for all products, including those listed as sensitive and highly sensitive. The Philippines rice imports tariffs will have to be cut to 20 percent by January 1.

During the bilateral discussion, Favila explained that the Philippines, despite being a net importer, required a tariff protection for the farmers in regions which are able to produce rich harvests.

In a bid to reach a compromise deal, the Philippines said it is willing to give Thailand better market access to the local market.


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