Thailand 'violated customs law'

Thailand 'violated customs law'

A World Trade Organisation (WTO) Panel has upheld the Philippines' claims that Thailand has been violating international customs law.

The dispute initiated by the Philippines in 2008 affects that nation's exports of cigarettes to Thailand, according to a statement released on Friday at www.dti.gov.ph.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said: "This WTO dispute has been going on for more than 10 years now, Thailand has lost all three panel and appellate rulings, and it is about time that Thailand accepts the rulings and implement the customs valuation reforms called for by those rulings."

This decade-old dispute between Thailand and the Philippines concerns Thailand's persistent failure to value Philippine exports consistently with the WTO's Customs Valuation Agreement (CVA).

These measures threaten the viability of the private sector both in the Philippines and in Thailand, harm Philippine tobacco farmers, and are inimical to the overall export interests of the Philippines. It also places bilateral relations on a sour note.

Mr Lopez said: "Thailand is a strong supporter of the WTO multilateral trading system, and currently chairs the WTO General Council. Thailand is also Asean host for 2019. Accepting the panel report in this dispute would be a clear demonstration of Thailand's responsibility and leadership in the WTO and in Asean."

Thailand Customs Department spokesman Chaiyuth Khamkhun said the department has set up a working group to monitor the dispute, saying the group will have to study the ruling further.

This dispute was initiated by the Philippines in 2008, and is still ongoing because of allegations of Thailand repeatedly under-declaring the customs value of cigarettes, which are all based on valuation determinations consistently ruled as illegal under WTO rules.

The unlawful measures threaten criminal prosecution and even the imprisonment of a number of employees of the importer in Thailand, Philip Morris International Thailand.


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