Trade with Australia and Philippine safeguards

Apparently, trade between Philippines and Australia rose because of the ASEAN-A/NZ trade agreement (click here for BusinessWorld article). This is according to Ross Bray, "Australia’s senior trade commissioner for the Philippines and Micronesia". Questions are:
- what is the value of the trade between Philippines and Australia;
- what is the extent of Australian imports to the Philippines; and
- isn’t the alleged increase Philippine exports to Australia just a return to normalcy from pre-2009 (i.e., pre-crisis) levels?

Note must be made that the reported 25% usage of Philippine exporters to Australia essentially mirrors the around 20% utilization by Philippine exporters of the AFTA.

The point is, the alleged benefits of the FTA should be further examined. And definitely all the more if a bilateral Philippine-Australia FTA is being proposed.

In other news, the Philippines was identified by the WTO as being a heavy user of safeguard measures (click here for BusinessWorld article). But this is strange when you consider that Philippine imports dropped in 2008, at record levels in 2009, and have been quite unsteady in 2010. This is the most likely period of review for the safeguards investigations. Where could the import surge have come from then? And some "expert" says it’s "legal". The interesting thing here is that neither the DTI nor the FPI deny the considerably high number (or percentage) of safeguard measures identified by the WTO as being either imposed or proceedings instituted by the Philippines. Weird. Either the domestic numbers presented to us by the government or the WTO figures is wrong. So who is giving the correct numbers? Interesting ...

Looks more that politics rather than economics is at work (and, more disturbing, sloppily thought out at that). Interesting that we haven’t received any WTO dispute query or complaint about this.