The quantitative restriction (QR) on rice imports is set to expire by end June, but developed countries like US and Canada are opposing the country’s request to extend the QR retention. According to research group IBON, the retention of QR on rice is important in protecting local farmers and should be implemented fully despite pressure from other countries.
The pressure also comes in the form of imposing concessions in exchange of the rice QR extension. The US, for instance, reportedly wants the Department of Agriculture (DA) to reduce the tariffs on pork imports in exchange for the retention of rice QRs. It also wants the repeal of Administrative Order No. 22, which provides rules and regulations on the handling of frozen local and imported meat. The US finds AO No. 22 too restrictive and biased against US frozen meat imports.
The QR on rice under the World Trade Organization (WTO) allows the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the Philippine government through the National Food Authority (NFA). The WTO temporarily waived the lifting of rice QRs so that the Philippines could conduct bilateral talks with other countries after it requested an extension for another three to five years.
The US Trade Representative office and the DA already conducted bilateral talks on the country’s restrictive importation on frozen meat products, wherein the DA reportedly offered a 5-percent tariff cut on imported pork. In a similar effort to appease US and Canada, the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) drafted an alternative AO that eased the rules for handling frozen meat and meat products by lowering temperatures and allowing these to be stored in coolers instead of refrigerated containers.
Such conditions should not be part of the negotiations for the rice QR extension, the research group said, adding that both livestock and rice sectors should be protected by government. Decades under trade liberalization have resulted in the surge of agricultural imports in the local market, which have led to unprecedented bankruptcy of farmers and the country’s food insecurity. This situation will get even worse if the rice QR extension does not push through because of US opposition, IBON warned. (end)
IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.