PH presses Thailand on cigarettes dispute

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2013 03:14 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2013 11:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government is pushing for the resolution of its trade complaint against Thailand over cigarettes.

The Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the World Trade Organization (WTO) said it raised concerns regarding the issues in its dispute with Thailand during the WTO Settlement Body (DSB) meeting. 

The Philippines had filed a complaint against Thailand at the WTO over the latter's imposition of unfair taxes on Philippine-made cigarettes. The WTO sided with the Philippines in 2010, and the two countries were supposed to have reached an agreement in 2011. 

The statement said Thailand expressed its readiness to continue discussions on the Philippines’ remaining concerns. 

"The Philippines welcomed Thailand’s readiness for continued bilateral discussions at the appropriate level. The Philippines however noted that while there was preference to resolve the dispute by means other than continued litigation, further progress was expected in the coming month," it said. 

Meanwhile, the Philippines reported to the WTO DSB that it has complied with the recommendations and rulings on taxes on distilled spirits. 

This after the sin tax reform law took effect on January 1, 2013. 

The new tax system adopts a uniform tax that applies equally to all distilled spirits. It eliminates the system of taxation found to be discriminatory by the WTO panel and the appellate body.

"Our compliance with this WTO ruling is a living testament of our desire to balance legitimate domestic objectives and the concerns of our foreign investors. It is also a concrete manifestation that President Aquino’s good governance thrust applies not only within our borders, but also in our adherence to our international commitments," Ambassador Esteban B. Conejos, Jr., the Philippines’ Permanent Representative to the WTO, said. 

The United States and European Union delegates welcomed this development. 

A US delegate said it was very pleased at the Philippines' commitment to implementing the DSB's ruling and recommendations.

The EU delegate said it is analyzing the implementing rules, and may need to seek clarifications on their practical functioning.