RP-EC trade row

BusinessWorld reports that the consultations held last 08 October 2009 (erroneously reported as last Friday) still left unresolved the ongoing dispute (DS396) between the Philippines and the EC over the former's liquor taxes:

"Talks aimed at resolving a trade dispute over Philippine taxes on imported liquor failed to deliver a compromise last week, an official of the Western bloc said.

No decision has yet been made as to whether the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be asked to step in, although the European Commission (EC) is no longer interested in continuing the bilateral negotiations, the official said.

The Philippines, however, hopes further talks will still be held, representatives said.

Consultations were held last Thursday and Friday in Manila after the EC complained that Republic Act 9334 unfairly increased excise tax rates by 50% for imported spirits, compared to only 30% for locally made spirits. Officials from the US, another major liquor exporter, attended the meeting as well.

'A solution was not found, but we remain open to a proposal from the Philippines removing the discrimination so as to avoid the need for the next step in the WTO litigation process,' Gabriel Munuera Vinals, commercial counselor of the EC delegation to the Philippines, said in an e-mail on Friday. 'The EC does not intend to request a second round of formal consultations.'"