THAILAND has failed to comply with a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against its regulations on cigarette imports, a WTO dispute panel in Geneva said on Monday.
The issue involved the first of two legal cases brought to the Geneva-based watchdog by the Philippines.
Either side can still appeal the ruling, which concerned valuation imported by Philip Morris Thailand Limited from Philip Morris subsidiaries in the Philippines and Indonesia.
The dispute stems from Manila’s 2008 complaint against Thai fiscal and customs measures affecting cigarettes from the Philippines, including customs valuation, excise tax, health tax, value added tax, retail licensing requirements and import guarantees imposed upon cigarette importers that resulted in unfair treatment of imported cigarettes.
The WTO dispute panel ruled in favor of the Philippines in late 2010.
In February 2013, however, Manila expressed concern on a lack of progress in Thailand’s compliance with rulings and recommendations of the dispute panel concerned, while Bangkok argued in June 2014 that Thailand did not have to take any further action to implement them.
The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) established a compliance panel — the second after the one formed in December 2016 — last May 9.
“We… conclude that Thailand has failed to implement the recommendations and rulings of the DSB to bring its measures into conformity with its obligations under the CVA (Customs Valuation Agreement) and the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade),” read the summary report posted on the WTO Web site.
Sought for comment, Jeremy I. Gatdula, a lecturer at the University of Asia and the Pacific for international Law, said in a mobile phone message on Tuesday: “If no agreement on possible compensation is forthcoming, then the Philippines needs to start determining an effective set of retaliatory measures… that will help our local tobacco industry.” — Reuters and Janina C. Lim