India and China have supported the Philippines’ request to the World Trade Organisation for continuing its import restrictions on rice in line with its food security needs.
The US, Canada, Australia and Thailand, though, are playing hard ball.
They have said that they were still consulting with the Philippines, a person who attended the recent WTO’s council for trade in goods meeting told Business Line.
The Philippines has sought the WTO’s approval to continue with the quantitative restrictions on rice imports until 2017.
The special treatment for rice that the WTO allowed Philippines expired in June 2012.
“India has been fighting for all developing countries at the WTO to ensure that their rights to food security are not breached. The Philippines’ request should be supported by all countries,” a Government official told Business Line.
India itself is engaged in a tough battle at the WTO for legitimising farm subsidies for its food procurement programme and is keen to support poorer countries seeking special treatment for ensuring food security.
Indonesia and Vietnam, too, have come out in support of their neighbour and together with India and China have urged other countries to conclude consultations with the Philippines early.
Since the Philippines has been continuing with its quantitative restrictions on rice imports despite the special dispensation lapsing in 2012, it can be dragged into dispute by any WTO member country for breaching multilateral rules that ban such restrictions.
Under the quantitative restriction system, the Philippines is allowed to import 350,000 tonne of rice annually under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV).
Imports under the MAV quota are levied a duty of 40 per cent, while imports above the quota are levied a higher import duty of 50 per cent.
The Philippines has argued that the restrictive duties are necessary to protect its local farmers.