ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
New Philippine tariffs delayed
The delay in the issuance of an executive order (EO) that would put in place the most favored nation (MFN) tariff schedule for 2011 to 2015 may cause "uncertainty" among businessmen, said Edgardo Abon, Tariff Commission chairman.
The MFN tariff schedule contains the prescribed duties imposed on goods imported from non-Asean members of the World Trade Organization.
"Because of some issues and lack of material time, the EO may not be issued by yearend," Abon said in a telephone interview.
Among the "major" unresolved tariff issues is that of bioethanol, as the Department of Energy (DOE) has yet to submit its position on the matter.
"According to DOE, they are still in consultation with stakeholders," Abon said.
The impasse roots from the Ethanol Producers Association of the Philippines' petition to jack up ethanol tariffs to 20 percent from the current one percent, as industry players claimed cheaper imports from Brazil are hurting them.
"Bioethanol investors want protection," Abon said.
Domestic production however has failed to meet the demand as local suppliers can provide only less than 50 percent of the country's ethanol requirements, Abon said.
"The TRM's Technical Working Group is awaiting the DOE's position on bioethanol tariff before submitting recommendations to the Cabinet-level TRM," Abon said.
The TRM or Tariff and Related Matters Committee is an inter-agency body housed under the National Economic and Development Authority.
In lieu of the new MFN tariff structure, the prevailing rates-which shall expire on December 31 this year-would remain in force until the EO is issued, although Abon said carrying over to next year the current MFN rates of duty would "create uncertainty."
He said the EO may be signed when Congress goes on Lenten break, as the Executive branch of government may issue directives on tariff matters only when the legislature is not in session.
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