We thank our Principals, in particular our Chief Negotiator DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and DA Secretary William D. Dar, for their trust and guidance.
The WTO Ministerial Conference is not a one-off event. It represents the culmination of day-to-day discussions and negotiations, and continuous engagement with our stakeholders – our farmers, fisherfolk, and entrepreneurs.
Today and the succeeding days, we would be hearing statements and reading assessments on the impact and the relevance of the Outcomes of WTO MC 12. The whole world would be, we would say, rightfully elated with the results. As for the Philippine Delegation, we measure our performance based on the National Objectives we have set in the beginning – the existential issues of Food, Health, and Fisheries.
On Food, there is a Declaration on emergency response to food insecurity and a Decision on non-imposition of export restrictions on World Food Programme food purchases. As we all know, The Philippines benefits from WFP food support, particularly in responding to natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes.
On Health, there is the waiver on vaccine patents for 5 years, with a mandated review in 6 months for possible inclusion of therapeutics and equipment.
On Fisheries, we were able to secure the means for government to support our fisherfolk, including artisanal fishers, within our Exclusive Economic Zone, and significantly, a reference to the International Law of the Sea. We also agreed on the ability to support fisherfolk impacted by natural disasters— as a Climate Change vulnerable-country, this is very important for us.
We equally stressed the importance of Technical Assistance and Capacity Building (TACB) programs made available to developing and least developed countries, such as the WTO’s new Fish Funding Mechanism, where the Philippines, including Barbados and Mauritius, were selected as pioneer beneficiary partners.
Additionally, there is a work program for the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions to continue. It is vital for us to maintain a stable and predictable digital trading environment, especially for our MSMEs as we traverse this post-pandemic path towards recovery.
MC 12 has demonstrated that the WTO remains relevant as a global trade regulatory platform, what is even more critical is what the Philippines will do at the national level.
The important task ahead is to ensure that domestic measures will be put in place so our stakeholders will directly benefit from the MC 12 outcomes.
More concretely, in light of the TRIPS Waiver, we will further intensify our Vaccine Self-Reliance Program (VSRP) and anticipating the review on the 6th month and possible inclusion of equipment and therapeutics, we will likewise strengthen our collaboration with the local pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Our productivity-enhancing programs such as food security and fishery program/s R&D and science-based approaches in resource management to achieve food security and safeguard our fish resources will be continuously pursued.
Given these outcomes and measures in place, we are confident that in the midst of this difficult and unprecedented times, we are all are moving forward with vigor. END