Sec Ramon Lopez at WTO MC11

As the Philippine head of delegation to the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez gave his statement before fellow Ministers and delegates of the 164 member countries of the organization. He emphasized that the Philippines remains committed in contributing towards the effective functioning and enhancement of the multilateral trading system, particularly to promote sustainable and inclusive development for all. He also reiterated President Duterte’s pronouncement of making Philippine economic growth more inclusive – by ensuring that the multilateral platform makes Inclusive Globalization at the front and center of the WTO agenda. This is possible through a conscious effort to empower and capacitate those who are weak and spread the gains to those have less.

With such framework in mind, Sec. Lopez enumerated three key Philippine priorities for the MC11, namely:

1) Elimination of trade-distorting domestic support and export subsidies,

2) Establishment of a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) as a trade remedy tool for developing and least developed countries (LDCs) in order to protect their small and subsistence farmers from import surges and price depressions, and shields them from subsidized exports; and

3) Adoption of a Ministerial decision on an MSME work programme that considers development levels or characterisations of these enterprises, provides competence and capacity building sharing mechanisms, and enhances their ability to participate meaningfully in international trade (direct or through global value chains).

In addressing these, Sec. Lopez reaffirmed the importance of continuously upholding the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), and preserving its basic principles while advancing the objectives underlying the multilateral trading system.

In closing, the Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary expressed his desire for the Ministers to leave Buenos Aires with a clear path of the work ahead. He, likewise, reiterated the country’s willingness to work constructively with other WTO members to achieve concrete outcomes at MC11, benefiting all Members especially the developing and least developed countries.♦