Thank you Chair. Excellencies, I bring greetings from PH Minister Ramon Lopez.

After two very difficult and challenging years, we were seeing positive developments that allowed us to be a bit more optimistic of our collective nearfuture. In the case of the Philippines, our Gross Domestic Product grew by 8.3% in the first quarter of this year and our Foreign Direct Investments in 2021 reached the highest ever on record, even surpassing pre-Pandemic levels.

One very worrisome challenge however is Inflation, particular driven by Fuel and Food prices—commodities that disproportionately affects the Poor most gravely. The annual inflation rate in the Philippines climbed to 5.4% in May 2022, still modest but it is our highest level since November 2018.

In this context, the Philippines supports efforts to conclude the agricultural package, including through the Declaration on Food Security and Decision to Exempt World Food Program purchases from export prohibitions or restrictions. While short-term measures are important, a comprehensive and balanced agricultural reform is essential if we are to realize long-term food security. Reform must 1) encompass substantial cuts in domestic support, 2) a permanent solution to public stockholding to respond to emergencies like the current crisis, 3) an effective special safeguard mechanism to mitigate against import surges and commodity price declines, and 4) the reduction of non-tariff barriers which unduly burden the ability of MSMEs to participate in global commerce. In short, we have to continue chasing the dream that we launched in Doha.

And when we talk about Food Security, we need to also discuss Food Sustainability. Hence, let us not forget the need to effectively address the issue of harmful fishery subsidies, while recognizing that the cause of fishstock depletion cannot come from small, impoverished fisherfolks.

Aside from Food, the other existential issue that we have the opportunity to address in MC 12 is Health, in particular in ensuring that we have outcomes that will allow WTO members to attain Health security and sustain our shift from Pandemic to Endemic by providing greatest possible access to available knowledge and technology for Covid therapeutics; and to be better prepared for the next Pandemic by making vaccine manufacturing more widely spread.

Lastly, we have to also give attention to strengthening and modernizing the WTO. We support a concerted focus on WTO reform across all its pillars, including the dispute settlement system. We have to further integrate new initiatives on ecommerce, MSMEs, gender, investment facilitation and services, and crucially, the Environment into our core agenda. PH also associates with the Pathfinder proposal mentioned earlier by SG Minister Gan as a pragmatic way to demonstrate our responsiveness and relevance.

Dear Ministers, we are here this week to represent not just Trading Economies, but we are to represent Humanity as it cries out for solutions on the existential issues of Food and Health; and our desire for a modern WTO that can serve as a platform to advance our collective desire for a more inclusive and sustainable global trading system.

Thank you. ♦

Date of Release: 15 June 2022