Committee on Import Licensing - Import licensing system of the Philippines - Questions from the United States to the Philippines

import licensing system of the Philippines

questions from the United States to the Philippines

The following submission, dated 22 March 2022, is being circulated at the request of the delegation of the United States.

 

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The United States looks forward to the Philippines' complete response to G/LIC/Q/PHL/5 and G/LIC/Q/PHL/6 regarding its Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPSIC) regime. The United States urges the Philippines to comply with its obligations to the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Agreement on Agriculture, and Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

The United States remains concerned that the SPSIC system may be used to restrict the flow of trade. On 22 February 2022, Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar announced that DA "aims to address the concerns of the onion industry to manage onion importation while ensuring its availability for the local market, thus additional guidelines and requirements shall be implemented on the issuance of [SPSIC]" and "that the issuance of SPSICs for fresh onion will be based on the importation period specified in the Certificate of Necessity to Import (CNI), which shall include the volume to be imported and the specific period for import arrival."[1] This measure is cited to be based on the 14 December 2021 Department Circular No. 08, series of 2021 or the Additional Guidelines on the Importation of Fresh Onions.

Question 1: Please explain the CNI requirement and its relationship to the issuance of SPSICs. 

Question 2: How is the establishment of "import necessity" prior to issuance of SPSICs different from a quantitative restriction?

Question 3: What is the phytosanitary justification for limiting the volume of product for which SPSICs will be issued to the CNI volume?

Question 4: Has 2021 Department Circular No. 08, Series of 2021, or the Additional Guidelines on the Importation of Fresh Onions been notified to the appropriate World Trade Organization committee(s), and could the Philippines provide a copy to members?

Question 5: What is the volume of the CNI and how is it determined?

On 7 March 2022, Philippine National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua recommended during a present to use the release of SPSICs for rice to facilitate continuous supply, especially for shipments arriving during the "lean season" starting in July.[2]

Question 6: Please explain the comment from Secretary Chua on the seasonal practice of SPSIC issuances for rice.

The United States notes that on 25 January 2022, the DA issued Administrative Order No. 2, Series of 2022, temporarily extending the validity period of SPSICs for meat and poultry imports from 60 days to 90 days until 31 December 2022.[3] The United States appreciates the extension of the validity period and notes that the extension contributes to trade facilitation.

Question 7: Why does the Philippines not make the extension permanent and lengthen the validity period for meat and poultry SPSICs as well?

Question 8: How are SPSIC validity periods for commodities determined and why are SPSIC validity periods for other commodities, such as fish and plant products, shorter than for meat and poultry SPSICs?

The United States also notes that the distribution of certain imported agricultural commodities is restricted to specific venues or geographic locations.

Question 9: Please explain the basis and justification for restricting the distribution of certain imported fruits and vegetables to "high-end markets" only, as published by the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).[4]

Question 10: What is the definition of "high-end market" as it applies to the "List of Allowable Fresh Fruits and Vegetables"[5] on the BPI webpage?

Question 11: According to Memorandum Circular No. 23 Series of 2021, imported pork products for sale under the Minimum Access Volume Management Committee Resolution No. 01, Series of 2021, were originally restricted to distribution in only the Philippine National Capital Region.[6] Why were importers not allowed to distribute pork to all areas of the Philippines, and what is the legal basis for this condition?

 



[1] "DA, onion growers agree to continue making local onion industry more competitive," DA, 23 February 2022, https://www.da.gov.ph/da-onion-growers-agree-to-continue-making-local-onion-industry-more-competitive/.

[2] "Put PH under Alert Level 1 to revive economy — NEDA," Inquirer.net, 7 March 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa_w3dV4gG0.

[3] Administrative Order No. 2 Series of 2022, DA, 25 January 2022, https://www.da.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ao02_s2022.pdf.

[4] "List of Allowable Fresh Fruits and Vegetables," DA,  https://npqsd.bpi-npqsd.com.ph/import/.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Memorandum Circular No. 23 Series of 2021, DA, 14 October 2021, https://www.da.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/mc23_s2021.pdf.