Creation of advisory body for trade talks urged

Published by rudy Date posted on July 2, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Local businessmen asked yesterday the government to create an advisory council that will help the Philippines negotiate trade deals with other countries.

In a statement, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said that there is a need to institutionalize an Industry-Services-Agriculture-Advisory Council (ISAAC).

Likewise, they said that there is no need to create a Philippine Trade Representative Office (PTRO) because it will only add another bureaucratic layer in the government basically facing the same sets of systemic problems.

Instead, they said that the government must simply appoint a focal person and strengthen the existing agency that will take the lead in all of the country’s trade negotiations.

According to the group, the priority should be to establish a coherent support structure that will manage and make sure that a nationwide consultation process will be institutionalized.

They said the ISAAC type of system will make sure that there is a specific mechanism including pertinent timelines, area coverage and specific parameters for regular consultations from the time requests for free trade agreements are entertained up to their ratification.

“Only with this process of appointing a lead negotiator and instituting an ISAAC mechanism can the various stakeholders be assured of a trade policy regime that is coordinated, cohesive and complimentary – able to pursue the general welfare, create jobs, ensure food security, and rural and industrial development for the country,” the group said.

Earlier, Multisectoral group Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) said the PTRO is needed for economic partnership agreement negotiations.

“It’s about time that the Philippine Trade Representative Office be created.  This office will remedy the problem of ad-hocism in trade negotiations, which betrays the sad absence of a clear, cohesive and integrated trade and development strategy that the country is pursuing,” the group said. –Ma. Elisa P. Osorio, Philippine Star

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