Washington has no intention of renegotiating done deals under the free trade agreement, particularly on sugar access, during the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks next month, the Department of Agriculture said Monday.

This means that the Philippines can continue to ship sugar to the US under quota system as a preferred trading partner with relatively low tariffs.

For the current crop year, the US gave the Philippines an additional 72,373.65 metric tons (MT) of sugar under the tariff rate quota scheme. That volume was over and above the regular quota of 138,827 MT.

"We asked for and received assurances (from the United States Trade Representative) that the US does not intend to re-negotiate sugar access in TPP negotiations that already have FTA with the US (such as) Australia, Chile, and Peru," said Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin of the Philippine Sugar Regulatory Administration.

In a report to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala., Martin said that countries that ship sugar to the US under the quota system are apprehensive that sugar exporters like Australia and Peru would use the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks to gain continued market share in the profitable US sugar importation system.

Martin and other stakeholders in the Philippine sugar industry were recently in the US to express support for Washington's existing sugar policy while the US congress deliberates on drafting of a new Farm bill in lieu the existing one that will expire at the end of September 2012.

The US Farm bill sets the minimum price for sugar and lays down the authority for supply management.

The US earlier said it intends to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to conclude "an ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects US priorities and values."

Washington sees the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a way to boost economic growth and increase American exports in the Asia-Pacific region that includes some of the world's "most robust" economies and represents more than 40 percent of global trade.

The 13th Trans-Pacific Partnership talks will be held in San Diego, California from July 2 to 10. The first round of negotiations was held in Australia in 2010.

source: VS, GMA News


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