The Philippines’ new Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization, Ambassador Esteban B. Conejos, Jr., delivered his first official statement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) meeting held last August 31.
Ambassador Conejos thanked the DSB Chair, Ambassador Shahid Bashir of Pakistan, for welcoming him on the occasion of his first official meeting in the WTO.
In his statement, Ambassador Conejos thanked Thailand for its fifth status report and for its statement made at the DSB meeting. The representative from Thailand had noted that the Philippines and Thailand have continuously engaged in bilateral exchanges and discussions with a view of achieving a mutually satisfactory outcome to the dispute. Thailand welcomed these discussions and considers them a very valuable means of clarifying Thailand’s intentions with respect to implementation and enabling a very helpful discussion on some of the technical aspects of the regulations being adopted by Thailand as part of its implementation. Thailand looks forward to continuing discussions with the Philippines.
Ambassador Conejos stated that the Philippines welcomed the steps Thailand had taken towards compliance. Unfortunately, a number of matters remain unresolved, more than three full months after the end of the reasonable period of time.
In the spirit of mutual cooperation, Ambassador Conejos added that the Philippines has sought to address these outstanding matters on a bilateral level, short of a return to formal dispute settlement.
“Whether that dialogue has been fruitful will become clear in the coming weeks, when we assess whether Thailand has followed through on specific actions committed for specific timeframes agreed during our bilateral discussions,” he said.
Ambassador Conejos stressed that the importance of these next weeks in determining the next steps in the dispute cannot be overstated. He noted that the Philippines has been patient and has exercised restraint well beyond the end of the reasonable period of time given to Thailand to implement the DSB ruling.
“Nonetheless, I have been instructed by my capital to communicate, in clear and concise terms, that our patience and restraint will end should the milestones addressed in our bilateral discussions pass without resolving the outstanding issues. While the Philippines reserves fully all of its rights, we stand ready, between now and then, to do anything we can to assist Thailand in achieving full compliance,” Ambassador Conejos said in concluding his statement.