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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        24  February 2011

Thailand appeals tobacco ruling

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Thailand has appealed the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling favoring the Philippines in the two countries' tobacco dispute.

"Thailand [on February 22] submitted a partial appeal of the Panel Report findings before the Appellate Body of the WTO," said Ambassador Manuel Teehankee, who is the Philippines' permanent representative to the WTO.

Teehankee said Bangkok has the right to thwart the adoption of the panel report as it filed an appeal ahead of the scheduled WTO Dispute Settlement Body meeting today in Geneva, Switzerland. In a report issued on November 15 last year, the panel that looked into the dispute recommended that "the Dispute Settlement Body request Thailand to bring . . . inconsistent measures . . . into conformity with its obligations under the GATT 1994 and the WTO Agreement." This panel report was due to be adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body.

Despite Thailand's appeal, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo expressed confidence "that the WTO Appellate Body will uphold the position of the Philippines and require Thailand to comply with its WTO obligations with respect to Philippine exports. The Philippines, being a major tobacco producer and a growing exporter of manufactured cigarettes to Thailand, will strongly defend the findings of the panel report," he said.

The Philippines in 2008 lodged a complaint alleging that Thailand violated WTO rules when Bangkok designated higher customs values for Manila's cigarette exports and jacked up the maximum retail prices on imported cigarettes to protect the Thai state-owned tobacco monopoly.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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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