PHL lauds WTO ruling on cigarette row with Thailand

Manila has lauded a World Trade Organization (WTO) report citing how Thailand continues to violate WTO rules in valuing Philippine cigarettes for customs purposes.

The WTO panel directed the government of Thailand to “bring its inconsistent measures into conformity with its WTO obligations,” Philippine permanent representative to the WTO Manuel Teehankee said in his report to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday.

“The Panel report is expected to be adopted by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, if no appeal is taken by Thailand,” said Teehankee in the report.

“Thailand may still appeal this ruling to the WTO’s Appellate Body,” he added.

The Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (TTM), controlled by Thailand’s Ministry of Finance, is the only company allowed to produce cigarettes in Thailand, thus all other cigarettes are imported, according to the report.

Such policy has affected the competitiveness of imported products, including cigarettes made in the Philippines.

Since 1986, Thailand has imposed customs valuation biased against Philippine cigarettes that subsequently led to imposing domestic taxes for Philippine cigarettes sold in Thailand, the report said.

Informal bilateral consultations from 2006 to September 2008 to resolve the matter and in the context of the dispute settlement body of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), with both countries as Asean members, failed.

That was why Manila took up the case before the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, filing a complaint on Nov. 2008.

“This is in order to examine the Philippine claims that Thailand’s actions constituted practices that were not consistent with, inter alia, the Customs Valuation Agreement, the provisions of GATT 1994, and Thailand’s basic obligations with respect to transparency,” Teehankee said. — VS, GMANews.TV


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