Cold chain rules OK’d for U.S., Philippines trade pact

   The United States and the Philippines recently resolved several bilateral issues under their bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Philippine Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez said in a joint statement Monday.
   Among the two countries’ agreements is to collaborate on the development of cold chain requirements and best practices in the Philippines, taking into account international guidelines and codes of practice regarding food hygiene set forth by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an intergovernmental body with more than 180 members established through the United Nations with a stated purpose to protect consumer health and ensure fair food trade practices.
   The U.S. will make “best efforts,” subject to availability of resources, to technically assist the Philippines’ efforts to enhance cold chain development and management, the joint statement says.
   “The United States welcomes the Philippines’ efforts to ensure the WTO-consistent valuation of agricultural imports for duty collection purposes, including the enforcement of laws, regulations and policies prohibiting the use of reference pricing,” the announcement states.
   USTR noted the Philippines is ensuring transparency, due process and fairness in laws, regulations and practices providing for the protection of geographical indications (GIs), including by respecting prior trademark rights and not restricting the use of common names.
   Further, the Philippines confirmed to the U.S. that it won’t provide automatic GI protection, including to terms exchanged as part of a trade agreement, the statement says.
   The Philippines also welcomed U.S. progress on several agricultural issues related to market access for mangoes, young green coconuts and carrageenan and on the 2017 expansion of the Generalized System of Preferences to include travel goods.
   The U.S. and Philippines also agreed to continued discussions on Philippine efforts in seeking relief from U.S. Section 201 global safeguard tariffs on solar cells and Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, the joint statement says.