According to the Department of Trade and Industry, Philippines will not extend the temporary use of quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice, on its expiry this month. In the reply to the question on what next steps would be considered on the upcoming expiration of QR’s, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez announced, “We are not pursuing QR. It’s over. It’s been decided by NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) in January, or even earlier.” Mr. Lopez chairs the Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) along with the director-general of the NEDA as co-chairman. The QR is a non-tariff measure imposed by a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to limit the volume of imports of a particular commodity over a particular period. The regime will expire by end-June, unless the Philippines ask for another extension. The country was allowed to impose temporary QRs on rice as a “special treatment” for the staple grain upon acceding to the WTO in 1995 and extended up to June 30 this year through a waiver.
During the negotiations for the second extension, which was granted in 2014, the Philippines had agreed, among others, to increase the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of rice to 805,200 Metric Tonnes (MT) and reduce the in-quota tariff to 35% corresponding to the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) duty and a most-favored nation (MFN) rate of 40% for volumes imported outside the MAV. Through this arrangement, the Philippines was given more time to achieve self-sufficiency in rice, a move expected to counter the damaging impact of the expected influx of cheap rice imports post QR. Meanwhile, the Philippines is rushing to set up a tariff scheme for rice after the expiration of the QR regime. However the move requires amendments involving Republic Act 8178 or the Tariffication Act of 1996 which authorizes the President to set import duties on the staple grain upon the expiry of the country’s waiver for the special treatment on rice. As the QR nears its expiration, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Executive Order No. 23 in April extending the “effectivity” of MFN, MAV and “other Philippine commitments” relating to the waiver granted by WTO on the special treatment of rice.