WTO - "DS 371" Philippines versus Thailand on cigarette customs valuation..

November 9, 2009 - The Philippines (RP) and Thailand were given a final opportunity until December 7, 2009 to comment and respond to questions before the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Panel is set to issue a ruling early next year over the countries cigarette tax dispute. (Philippines - Thai cigarette import rules..)

Philippine Ambassador to Geneva/WTO Ambassador Manuel AJ Teehankee relayed this in an email after the panel conducted the second substantive meeting last November 4 to 6 in Geneva. The panel hearing the (DS 371 Philippines versus Thailand on cigarette customs valuation), is chaired by H.E. Ambassador Roberto Acevedo, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the WTO, and its two additional members are Alvaro Hansen of Uruguay and Richard Gottlieb of Canada.

The panel heard rebuttal arguments and fielded searching questions on the facts, claims, and defenses presented by both parties since the first substantive meeting last June.

During the meeting, Teehankee highlighted issues of transparency, discrimination, and domestic protection in Thailand’s regulatory regime, which affects the entry of Philippine-made cigarettes in the country. The Philippine tobacco industry is a major employer and contributor to the Philippine economy.

The Philippine Delegation included Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Jose Antonio Buencamino, officials from the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the WTO, DTI-Bureau of International Trade Relations, and the International Economic Relations office of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Thai delegation was headed by Chawewan Kongcharoenkitkul, Senior Official from the Ministry of Finance, and is comprised of officials from the Thai Ministries of Commerce, Finance, and Foreign Affairs.

“The Philippines remains confident that the WTO legal panel will review all facts and hopefully requests Thailand to correct its tax measure,” Teehankee said.

Reference: WTO hears RP complaint against Thailand On cigarette customs valuation, mb(Manila bulletin).com.ph, 11/8/2009.

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