Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Philippine Participation in the WTO-GATT

SOFRONIO “TOTI” DULAY PA 242.2 15 October 16, 2008
Policy Analysis Plan

Title: The Philippine Participation in the WTO-GATT

1.0. Context

The Philippines considers its membership in the World Trade Organization as important. It has a permanent mission to WTO headed by Manuel Teehankee. It recognizes the value of the WTO’s achievements in fostering a more open, transparent, predictable and competitive environment. Member since 1995, the Philippines made substantial commitments on market access and at the same time continued to consolidate the liberalisation programme under the Tariff Reform Program, undertaken unilaterally since the 1980s.
In 1995 the Philippines acceded to the WTO in the belief that its membership of the rules-based body would bring about economic benefits, primarily to the rural sector, through increased efficiency of industries required by exposure to global competition. Jobs were promised and new industries were expected to emerge. But these things did not happen. The country completed implementation of its commitment under the Information Technology Agreement with the issuance of Executive Order 395 on 31 December 2004 eliminating the duty on certain sensitive IT products.
The agriculture is a major component of the Philippines economy, accounting for 21.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP), generating exports amount at over US$1.5 billion, and providing one third of all employment, or 11 million jobs. Its contribution increases when ‘all economic activities related to agro-processing and supply of non-farm agricultural inputs are included because the agricultural sector broadly defined accounts for about two-thirds of the labor force and 40% of GDP’. The importance of this sector makes it necessary for the government to have a stakeholder-based process that will render legitimacy not only to its domestic economic policies but to its international economic commitments as well, such as to the WTO. The Philippines is a member of the G33 bloc of the WTO that has been lobbying for concessions in agricultural trade reforms, particularly limited exceptions from liberalization of some products. Yet in 1995 the government actually implemented an agricultural liberalization program that was far beyond what was formally required under the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture. For instance, average agricultural tariffs were slashed by two-thirds from 28 percent in 1995 to just 9 percent in 2004. There was a similar eagerness in industry with industrial tariffs slashed by four-fifths from 14 percent to 3 percent in the same period.

2.0. Purpose and Objectives of the Analysis

2.1.To present background information in the Philippines participation in the WTO – GATT that could be helpful in coming out with issues that will relevant in the formulation of policies and government strategies.

2.2.To be able to know the perspective of different sectors – NGOs, government and WTO – that are relevant in the formulation of policies and strategies with the interest of the country and its people as the main consideration.

2.3. To be able to present policy options for the Philippines to take and come out with recommendations on which of the policy options to take.

3.0. Timing

3.1.The paper should determine the membership of the Philippines in the different committees of the WTO. Identification of the Philippine delegates and staff in the committees is important for the proper coordination for proper coordination and lobbying.

3.2.The paper should also list the schedule of meetings of the different committees of WTO and the reports they require, including conferences.

3.3. This paper should also list the different WTO related international alliances where the Philippines are included, such as, ASEAN, Cairns Group, G-110, G-20, G-33, and NAMA – 11, the point person of the Philippine government and the schedule of meetings within the next 12 months.

3.4. The paper should also list the government offices and official point persons that are involved in the negotiations in the WTO.

3.5. This should also include the different scheduled meetings within the next 12 months of the different government offices and officials related to WTO, including consultations with the legislative branches of government, industry sectors, and NGOs.

3.6. To determine the synchronization of dates for more effective advocacy of our national interest with regards to WTO and GATT concerns.

3.7. The listings can be in the form of attachments to the main paper.

3.8. If problems for securing the data happen, an endorsement from a congressman will be secured to facilitate the release of the data, which after all, is of public interest.

4.0. Audience

4.1. The primary set of audience of this paper is the members of the
Philippine Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization.
Hopefully, they will be able to pick some relevant issues and strategies
that will make them more effective in working for the interest of the
Filipino people.

4.2. Another set primary audience is the government agencies and policy
makers that are involved with the WTO – GATT. Hopefully, they are
able to back staff effectively the permanent representatives of the
country to the WTO.

4.3. Another set of primary audiences will be the legislators – the senate
and the House of Representatives, specially the relevant committees of
these bodies with the hope that they will be able to pick up some
relevant issues related to the WTO-GATT in their legislative activities.

4.4. The secondary audience will be the industry sectors that are affected
by the WTO – GATT, hoping that the policy analysis will help them in
their advocacy works.

4.5. Another set of secondary audience are the NGOs and other advocacy
Groups that are connected with the WTO-GATT and globalization

4.6. Finally, the last set of secondary audience is the general public; after
all, they have the right to information.

5.0. Research Methodology

After preparing a broad outline of the policy paper, the researcher can proceed with basically two general sources of data.

5.1. Primary Data (direct observations, surveys, interviews, focused group discussion and informal talks);

5.1.1. Direct Observation – observations will be done on the field in both household and industries affected by WTO – GATT such as some farming families in the rural areas and some affected industries.

5.1.2. Interviews - both structured and free wheeling interviews will be done on at least two sets of the following: agricultural farms, fishing villages, small cottage industries, big industries, and members of the Philippine Permanent mission to WTO, government officials involved with the WTO-GATT (DFA and DTI), NGOs, Advocacy Groups and WTO officials. Both homogenous and deviant set of respondents will be interviewed.

5.1.3. Surveys – using different sets respondents from among the farms, fishing villages, Philippine mission to WTO, government officials, NGOs, advocacy groups and WTO officials, a survey will be conducted to know their opinion on several issues: agricultural subsidy (local and foreign), tariff, charter change on economic provisions, protecting the local industries, is WTO – GATT good for the country?, Why? Why Not? What are the advocacy issues of the country within WTO – GATT? What else should we advocate? Why are they important? Plus some other issues that will prop up in the course of primary and secondary research. Basically, a homogenous sampling will be done among the sets of respondents, but in addition, a set of deviant sampling will be done to know extreme opinions on some issues.

5.1.4. Focused Group Discussion – another set of respondents from among the farms, fishing villages, Philippine mission to WTO, government officials, NGOs, advocacy groups and WTO officials will be invited for a focused group discussion on same issues stated above hoping that their face to face interactions in the FGD will sharpen their appreciation of the issues.

5.1.5. The FGD will use the Problem Tree and Objective Tree as a way of analyzing the Philippines and its participation in the WTO – GATT.

5.1.6. The FGD, in another session, will identify options, rate the criteria, subject the options to the rated criteria and come out with ranking of options from best to worst. The criteria to be rated will be: cost, equity, political, administrative and technical and effectiveness. It is in this portion that the session will become quantitative.

5.1.7. The FGD will make recommendations based on their exchange of ideas, problem tree and objective tree and analysis of the options.

5.1.8. Informal talks - will be done with professors, NGO leaders and some selected government officials involved with WTO – GATT to know their off the cup take on some issues.

5.2 Secondary Data (websites, official government files, books, thesis, researches, dissertations, annual reports, proceedings, programs, newsletters, publications, catalogues, handbooks, cases, lectures, and guidelines)

5.2.1. Google Search on websites that talks about Philippine WTO –
GATT issues. Avoid Google deep search because it will be
limiting the search.

5.2.2. Request for official reports of the Philippines to WTO –
GATT. Before asking for copies of the reports and files, try
Googling them first if they are available in the internet. If the
report is not given by the staff for reasons of confidentiality,
request a sympathetic congressman to send a note asking for
the reports.

5.2.3. Go to UP Library and any other library and index some
important books that talks about Philippines WTO-GATT
issues. Then read them and take down notes, noting the
pages for footnotes.

5.2.4. Try to scan the library for thesis and dissertations written
about the Philippines WTO – Issues.

5.2.5. Try to scan the concerned government offices, office of the
Philippine Permanent Representatives to WTO – GATT, WTO
office in the country, NGOs and libraries for researches,
annual reports, proceedings, programs, newsletters,
publications, catalogues, handbooks, cases, lectures, and

6.0. Bias

Bias must be recognized and inputted in the research, such as:

6.1. The members of the Philippine Permanent mission to WTO are expected to be pro – WTO because they had been acclimatized to the WTO environment

6.2. The Officers of the government agencies back staffing the country mission are also more “pro-establishments”.

6.3. The NGOs may be or maybe not pro WTO defending on their funding agencies

6.4. The advocacy groups may be pro or against WTO defending on their ideological leanings and funding agencies

6.5. The farmers, fishermen and industrialist may have the best interest of the their sectors

7.0. Reporting

7.1. Documentation – each of the methods used will be properly documented and bibliographed

7.2. Finalization of the outline of the paper – from the broad outline that serves as the initial guide for the research, a detailed outline which will consider the findings of the whole policy paper research procedures will be done.

7.3. The broad outline will conform with the generic policy analysis format set by the Canada School of Public Service, to wit:

A. Observation and Description
B. Analysis
C. Option Identification and Evaluation
D. Advice

7.4. The generic outline will then be expanded to include the nuances of the research to become the detailed outline, to wit:

A. Observation and Description

a. Introduction: objectives of the paper, country background, WTO –GATT, global developments

b. Developments in Economy from 1999-2004: Overall economic performance, sectoral growth, and external trade

c. Liberalization Through Domestic Reforms: structural reforms, foreign investment liberalization

d. Trade Policy Developments: the Philippines and the WTO, the DDA Negotiations

e. Issues and concerns raised by different sectors

B. Analysis

a. The Problem and ObejectiveTree From FGD

b. Fishbone Diagram

c. Waited Criteria Analysis of Options From FGD

d. Tabular Summary of the Results Surveys and Interviews

e. Narrative of Key Findings

C. Options Identification and Evaluation

List of dominant policy options that emerged from the
analysis, together with their implications and impact.

D. Advice/Recommendations

7.5. Printing and distribution of the policy analysis to the proposed audiences. Presentation in academic forum.