Sep 192014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/04/09MANILA714.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA714
2009-04-02 04:28
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO4592
OO RUEHCHI RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHPB
DE RUEHML #0714/01 0920428
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 020428Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3743
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJB/USDOJ WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2255
RUEHZU/APEC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000714

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/EP, AND EB/IFD
DEPARTMENT FOR EEB/TPP/MTA/IPC
STATE PASS USTR FOR BWEISEL, RBAE AND KEHLERS
STATE ALSO PASS USAID, OPIC, USDA
BANGKOK FOR USPTO JENNIFER NESS
TREASURY FOR OASIA
USDOC FOR 4430/ITA/MAC
USDOC PASS USPTO
STATE ALSO PASS LOC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD KIPR ECON EAGR RP
SUBJECT: Assistant USTR Weisel Reviews Intellectual Property and Trade Issues

MANILA 00000714 001.3 OF 002

¶1. (SBU) Summary. On March 23-24, Assistant U.S. Trade
Representative Barbara Weisel visited Manila for regular
consultations with Philippine government officials. During the
visit, she discussed developments in intellectual property
protection over the past year, the Arroyo Administration’s proposal
to reform the tobacco and alcohol excise tax regime, and the status
of a petition by a the International Labor Rights Federation to end
Philippine participation in the Generalized System of Preferences.
End summary.

Intellectual Property and the Special 301 Review
——————————————— —

¶2. (SBU) Weisel conducted a number of meetings on intellectual
property. She discussed with Intellectual Property Office Director
General Adrian Cristobal the ongoing Special 301 review of
intellectual property protection, noting that many in Washington
feel that progress in the Philippines has been insufficient.
Cristobal focused upon what his office intends to accomplish during
2009, including judicial reforms and implementation of 2008’s
“Cheaper Medicines Act” consistent with World Trade Organization
rules. Edu Manzano, Chairman of the Optical Media Board, reported
on the increased pace of enforcement in the wake of a late-year
increase in the operating budget, and reiterated his call for
implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization
Internet Treaties and jurisdiction for his agency over
internet-based piracy.

¶3. (SBU) Philippine Department of Justice Intellectual Property
Rights Task Force Prosecutors described the challenges of reforming
a Philippine legal and court system whose problems are fundamental
and deeply entrenched. A collection of senior private sector
intellectual property attorneys was positive about the prospects of
reform, and told Weisel that the Department of Justice and the
Intellectual Property Office have approached several of their firms
to ask for written comments on new rules of procedure for dealing
with intellectual property.

Alcohol and Tobacco Excises Remain at Issue
——————————————-

¶4. (SBU) Weisel met with Gil Beltran, the Undersecretary of Finance
responsible for tax policy, to discuss the Philippine government’s
attempts to reform the excise tax regime for tobacco and alcohol to
remove rules that discriminate against foreign products. Beltran
noted that his department submitted legislation to Congress that
would make the system conform to World Trade Organization rules, but
over the course of the discussion, admitted that President Arroyo
would not publicly support the tax increase included in that
legislation, and that Philippine alcohol and tobacco producers have
tremendous influence in the House of Representatives and are
well-placed to block the plan. He went so far to suggest that the
United States and the European Commission will need to file a case
with the World Trade Organization to give the Philippine government
the political cover necessary to enact the tax changes.

Thanks to Agriculture for Solving a Problem
——————————————-

¶5. (SBU) In a meeting with Undersecretary of Agriculture for Policy
and Planning Fred Serrano, Weisel thanked the Department of
Agriculture for working with the U.S. government to resolve the
recent dispute over proposed changes to the Philippine tariff rate
quota system on pork, chicken, and other agricultural products.

Labor Secretary Addresses Violence against Union Leaders
——————————————— ———-

¶6. (SBU) Weisel met Secretary of Labor Mariano Roque and three of
his undersecretaries for a useful discussion of the petition from
the International Labor Rights Federation to suspend the Philippines
from the Generalized System of Preferences for alleged interference
with the organization of labor unions. Roque discussed the April 24
hearing on the petition at the offices of the U.S. Trade
Representative, and agreed on the importance of further bilateral
consultation after that hearing and his department’s meetings with

MANILA 00000714 002.3 OF 002

the International Labor Organization in Geneva.

Comment
——-

¶7. (SBU) Assistant USTR Weisel’s Manila visit, though brief, covered
many bilateral issues. Intellectual property will continue to be
the principal bilateral trade issue this year. Likewise, the
Philippine Congress is not likely to resolve the question of
discriminatory excise taxes despite the Philippine government’s
admission that the current regime does not conform to its
commitments on trade. Aside from the specific issues that Weisel
covered here, our challenge in trade and investment during 2009 will
be to keep the relationship moving forward in the run up to May 2010
Philippine elections and to keep the entire economic relationship
from being defined by irritants.
KENNEY

   

 

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