DA exec fights for RP agricultural products in global market
- by Rommel Ynion () - April 1, 2001 - 12:00am
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has called for a level playing field for the country’s agricultural products to stand a chance to survive in the global market.

During a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) conference in Geneva, Agriculture Undersecretary Arsenio Balisacan said that unless other countries stop their "trade-distorting tactics," the Philippines will most likely lag behind its neighbors not only in Asia, but other countries throughout the world.

Balisacan scored the propensity of other countries to increase their tariffs to the detriment of the others, especially the developing ones which can hardly subsidize their agricultural businesses.

Speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Barisacan said that the aim of ASEAN is to ensure the continuation of reforms in agricultural trade to achieve a level playing field in the global market.

"We have to achieve a fair and market-oriented agricultural approach with special and differential treatment as an integral part of negotiations," he said. "Our objective is to level the playing field between those who can afford to subsidize agriculture and those who can ill-afford it."

Balisacan added that ASEAN’s objective revolves around the three pillars of world trade: Export subsidies, domestic support and market access.

"Our approach in each of these pillars varies, taking into account the necessary substantive balance that must characterize the outcome of the negotiations by ensuring that the depths of the adjustments by members corresponds to the depths of their contribution to trade distortion," he said.

Balisacan also called for a more "differential treatment and modalities" for all developing countries in all the three pillars of their trade relations with the rest of the world to enable them to achieve their "development goals, including non-trade concerns such as food security."

He said that the elimination of export subsidies in other countries can help level the playing field enabling developing nations like the Philippines to compete globally.

"What has happened is that the Philippines, for instance, has lowered its tariffs dramatically for the past years while other developed countries have barely reduced theirs," Balisacan pointed out. "In this case, how can we stand a chance to compete decently if we can’t even subsidize our agriculture.

"That is why we propose the reduction over time of all trade-distorting support measures of other developed countries," he said, adding that such a move will help developing countries gain access to the world market.

AGRICULTURE UNDERSECRETARY ARSENIO BALISACAN ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS BALISACAN COUNTRIES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TRADE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
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