The Philippine delegation presented a united front in advancing the interests of the country during the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, with the theme, “Delivering for People Through Trade”.

The House of Representatives gave their full support to the Philippine delegation, composed of key officials from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL). At the delegation meeting led by the DTI, the group agreed to fully cooperate in advocating for the country’s interests globally and promoting its national priorities to ensure the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and prosperity for the Filipino people.

Members of the House of Representatives joining MC13 include:

  • Congressman Jose Manuel F. Alba, Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,
  • Congressman Joseph L. Lara, Chairperson of the Special Committee on Globalization and WTO,
  • Congressman Rodante D. Marcoleta, Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Energy and Member of the Joint Congressional Energy Commission, and
  • Congressman Gerardo P. Valmayor, Jr., Chairperson of the Committee on Economic Affairs.

Key issues at the forefront of the Philippine agenda at the WTO MC13 include supporting WTO dispute settlement reform, investment facilitation for development, promoting sustainable agricultural and fisheries trade policies, championing digital trade, and fostering inclusivity within the global economic system.

“This close collaboration between the legislative and executive branches is a positive force in effectively representing and defending the country’s interests at the WTO. It also underscores the country’s commitment to fostering progressive change in the global economic landscape.” DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual said.

The Philippines solidified its commitment to sustainable and environmentally conscious practices in fisheries trade by making a historic move at the opening of the Working Session on Fisheries. By depositing its Instrument of Ratification to the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement (FSA), the Philippines became the 70th WTO Member to ratify the FSA. DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. appreciated the legislators’ support in the country’s push for sustainable practices in agriculture and fisheries, “This landmark agreement aims to combat subsidies that contribute to Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF) practices, ensuring the sustainability of marine resources crucial for the livelihood of our fisherfolk and coastal communities. The Department of Agriculture is pleased to be working with all branches of the government to effectively implement the Agreement, safeguarding our fisheries and aquatic resources and ensuring food security for our countrymen,” he stated.

Highlighting the crucial link between trade and environment, Secretary Pascual underscored the pivotal role trade ministers have in advancing the sustainable development agenda. He emphasized the need for crafting trade policies that the WTO can leverage to tackle climate challenges effectively.

“As one of the most climate vulnerable countries, we see the urgency in addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. We believe the WTO is in a unique position to help tackle these pressing problems through a more ambitious trade agenda, including promoting environmental goods and services, facilitating sustainable trade, and incentivizing domestic regulatory frameworks that support just energy transitions,“ DTI Sec. Pascual added.

The Philippines remains firmly committed to influencing the future of international trade. The country’s active participation at MC13 exemplifies its proactive stance on critical issues, especially in trade and sustainable development.

On the sidelines of MC13, Philippine legislators and senior officials from the DTI, DA, DFA, and IPOPHL engaged in discussions focused on the country’s interests in trade, climate change, sustainable development, agriculture, fisheries, and e-commerce. These discussions aimed at refining and advancing the Philippines’ policies in these critical areas. ♦

Date of release: 03 March 2024