WASHINGTON continues to press Manila at the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding the Philippines’s current trade policies which the United States argued are “restricting” the trade of various agricultural and food products.
In a recent WTO committee meeting, the United States fielded a series of follow-up questions about the Philippines’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures as Washington remains “concerned” that Manila is limiting agricultural imports without scientific basis.
“The United States remains concerned that the SPSIC [SPS Import Clearance] system is used to restrict the flow of trade,” Washington said in one of its questions raised during a WTO Committee on Agriculture (CoA) meeting earlier this month.
The United States raised the matter during the WTO CoA meeting, as it inquired about the statement of the Philippines’s former Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar’s on limiting onion imports.
The United States noted that the Philippines will “manage” the importation of onion through the issuance of a Certificate of Necessity to Import, which will specify the volume to be imported and specific period for import arrival.
“Please explain how restricting the volume of imports over a given period via the CNI requirement prior to the issuance of SPSIC is different from a quantitative restriction, and explain the phytosanitary justification for implementing the CNI,” the United States said.
The United States also asked the Philippines to explain the role of its Department of Agriculture (DA) as well as its local onion industry “in determining the volume of onions allowed to be imported.”
Furthermore, the United States asked for clarity on how the volume of the CNI for onions would be determined as well as if the Philippines has already notified its additional guidelines on fresh onions importations to the appropriate WTO committees.
ASIDE from onions, the United States questioned the seemingly continued restriction by Manila on the entry of foreign whole chickens to the Philippines.
The United States asked if the Philippines has imported a single whole chicken in the years 2021 and 2022 and asked for pertinent data about the matter.
“Does the Philippines restrict imports of whole chickens from trading partners other than the United States and, if so, why?” it said.
The question posed by the United States on the Philippines’s whole chicken imports was a continuation of a string of queries that Washington posed in previous WTO CoA meetings.
In fact, the United States’s previous two questions about the matter raised during the WTO CoA meeting last June remain unanswered by the Philippines.
The US had asked Manila to explain why it was rejecting SPSIC applications for whole chickens from the former despite having earlier granted Washington a system-wide export accreditation.
“The United States notes that all US federally inspected poultry slaughter/packing establishments in the United States are eligible to export the full range of poultry and poultry products [including whole chickens] to the Philippines,” Washington said.
“Why are US whole chicken Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance SPSIC permits rejected despite the Philippines accrediting the US system to export poultry to the Philippines?” it added.
In a June 2021 WTO CoA Meeting, the Philippines explained that SPSIC applications for whole chickens from the United States were rejected because of a “deferment” on the decision on the application for accreditation status of the US in 2019. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2021/06/22/us-to-phl-explain-apparent-misuse-of-sps-ic-on-imports/)
“SPSIC applications, in particular for importation of whole chicken from the US, were rejected because the decision on the application for accreditation status of the US was deferred in 2019,” the Philippines said.
“In effect, there should be no additional establishments and meat formats beyond those that were previously endorsed to the Philippines,” it added.
The United States’s concerns regarding its shipments of whole chickens to the Philippines has been running for almost two years now. The United States first raised the issue about the rejected SPSICs for whole chickens in a November 2020 WTO CoA meeting.