Manila raises concerns over cigarette tax dispute

Economy July 25, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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The Philippines has expressed concern over Thailand's unresolved cigarette customs regulations after the World Trade Organisation ruled in favour of the Philippines instead of Thailand on cigarette taxation.

“There are still outstanding issues with Thailand,” Philippine Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jnr said of Thailand’s status report submitted to the WTO on June 5 regarding its compliance with the 2011 ruling on taxes on imported cigarettes. “Thailand has yet to guarantee that an ongoing tax-evasion case against Philip Morris Thailand would not negate the WTO decision that the Philippines had victory.”
WTO rules allow for further arbitration or the imposition of limited trade sanctions should a country that has won a case feel unsatisfied with compliance by the losing party. 
However, the Philippines has not confirmed whether it would haul Thailand to arbitration should the WTO decision be overturned.
The tax-evasion case against Philip Morris Thailand filed by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation for allegedly undervaluing its cigarette imports from 2003-07 covers the period from when the Philippines filed its complaint to the WTO against Thailand and the WTO’s ruling.
Philip Morris (Thailand) has said it has not received any communication from the Office of the Attorney-General on this matter. 
There have been news reports that Chulasingh Vasantasingh authorised a prosecution order against Philip Morris (Thailand) one week before retiring as attorney-general last October.