Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez announced today the successful conclusion of the WTO Facilitator-assisted process in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to resolve the decade-long trade dispute between the Philippines and Thailand involving Philippine exports of cigarette to Thailand. In a recent related development, the Thai Appellate Court affirmed with finality the acquittal of Philip Morris Thailand employees in a case related to imports of cigarettes from the Philippines, while also reducing civil penalties and other fines that could have discouraged greater trade between the Philippines and Thailand.

Secretary Lopez stated that: “This bilateral understanding shows the good faith and strong commitment among ASEAN partners to resolve their differences and support the WTO’s rules-based dispute settlement system. Thailand and its agencies of government including its judicial branch, have shown positive progress towards upholding WTO rules and the Customs Valuation Agreement. I am grateful to Secretary of Foreign Affairs Locsin, our experts from the DOJ, the BOC and BIR as well as DTI Usec. Ceferino Rodolfo, for their invaluable guidance and assistance during the negotiations.”

The Philippines and Thailand, represented by their Permanent Representatives to the WTO in Geneva, Amb. Manuel A.J. Teehankee and Amb. Pimchanok Pitfield signed the Understanding on Agreed Procedures Towards a Comprehensive Settlement of the Dispute in Thailand – Customs and Fiscal Measures on Cigarettes from the Philippines (DS 371). Amb. George Mina, Permanent Representative of Australia to the WTO, acted as Facilitator between the two parties, a process which began in January of 2021. In accordance with the Understanding, the parties have agreed to establish a bilateral consultative mechanism (BCM) which will serve as a channel for their respective relevant authorities to regularly cooperate and dialogue to build further confidence that will support efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement of DS 371. Ambassador Mina said he was very pleased to have been able to assist the parties: “Throughout the facilitation process, the Philippines and Thailand have actively and constructively engaged in discussions, both in Geneva and through their respective capitals and demonstrates the commitment of the parties to the WTO Dispute Settlement System.”

Date of Release: 13 June 2022