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    Posted February 16, 2014 by

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    Removal of Phl from WTO sought

    A lawmaker on Sunday urged the government to remove the Philippine agriculture from the Agreement on Agriculture of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the country is being used as dumping ground of imported agricultural products.
    Rep. Fernando Hicap, author of House Resolution 583, said since the Philippines' entry to the WTO, several anti-peasant laws were passed by the body, most of which are within the framework of the World Bank market-assisted land reform and free market globalization.
    "Local laws were also amended to make them fully-compliant with the agreements and rules of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (WTO-GATT)," Hicap said.
    He said the Philippine government's promotion of agricultural trade liberalization and entry to the WTO virtually transformed the country into a dumping ground of imported agricultural products.
    The country's entry to WTO resulted in the massive flooding of imported rice in the domestic market, the lawmaker said.
    "Since 1995, the Philippines became a net importer of rice wherein the country imported an annual average of 12.5 percent of the population's total rice consumption. The highest is 28.5 percent in 1998," Hicap said.
    He said the rice production in the country has fallen for three straight years, from 16.8 million metric tons in 2008 down to 16.3 million metric tons in 2009 and 15.8 million metric tons in 2010.
    Hicap said corn productivity also decreased from 88 percent in 2005 to 78 percent 2006, adding that the country imported 303,000 metric tons of corn.
    The total vegetable imports in all forms rose to an average of over 94,000 metric tons during 1995 to 2000 period, which was equivalent to 10 percent of the local supply of vegetables and 11 percent of the total local production.
    Hicap said the flooding of imported products contributed to the accumulation of large trade deficits in agriculture.
    Hicap sought the immediate action of the House on his resolution saying the full integration of Philippine agriculture into the international market seriously threatens the livelihood of millions of poor farmers.
    "During the first five years of implementation of WTO liberalization, 900,000 jobs were lost in agriculture while in 1998, the sector lost 710,000 jobs," he said.
    "The heavy importation of key food commodities pose serious threats to the country's food self-sufficiency and the increased dependence on heavy subsidized imports has seriously eroded the country's capacity to become self-sufficient," Hicap concluded.
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