The governments of Japan and the Philippines reached a basic political agreement on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) on 29 November 2004 at the ASEAN Summit in Laos. The agreement was then signed in Helsinki on 9 September 2006 and came into force on 11 December 2008. It was the Philippines’ first free trade agreement and Japan’s fourth.
JPEPA was and remains hugely controversial. Filipinos — and on some issues, Japanese groups — mobilised to stop the deal for many reasons, including the following:
the small job market openings for Filipino healthcare workers are very limited (the workers must learn Japanese, undergo equivalency exams, stay for only a restricted time etc) and overlook the real potential for abuse of Filipino workers in Japan;
concerns that Japan will gain access to and be able to overfish Philippine waters, ruining the livelihoods of small fisherfolk;
any supposed benefits for increased pineapple and banana exports to Japan would in fact go to corporations like Dole and Del Monte, and their local business partners, who own and run the plantations in the Philippines — not to small or landless Filipino farmers;
its unconstitutionality, since JPEPA allows Japanese corporations to own land, operate schools and practice certain professions in the Philippines which the Philippine Constitution does not allow;
the huge imbalances in the deal, e.g. Japan excluded almost 200 tariff lines from the agreement, the Philippines only six; and
the fact that JPEPA gives explicit legal ground for Japan to dump toxic wastes in the Philippines.
last update: May 2012
About 590 Filipinas who have come to Japan to work at nursing care facilities are not eligible for public support under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, Kyodo reports.
Although both governments said at its signing that the agreement would be positive for both Japan and the Philippines in terms of trade and investment, the pact is actually lopsided in favor of the more powerful Japanese economic interests.
The Philippine government will continue to sort out the trade concerns raised by the Japanese government during the eighth meeting of the subcommittee on the Improvement of Business Environment under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa).
The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry is seen to press for more agricultural concessions for the country under the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the general review of which is expected to be completed this year.
The government is asking Japan that Filipino sugar exporters be given a regular quota of 150,000-200,000 metric tons per year under the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA).
The Philippines hopes to persuade Japan to lower tariffs further for over a thousand types of agricultural goods when the two meet to renegotiate a bilateral trade pact later this semester, a Trade official said.
Japan is very pleased with the economic fruits of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), which has made “significant strides” since it came into force in 2008, according to the Japanese Embassy in Pasay City.
Negotiations for the general review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, originally scheduled this month, have been moved to January next year.
A work standard for Filipino nurses and caregivers in Japan and the raising of tariff quotas for chicken and other agricultural items will be among the issues that the Philippines will raise when it reviews its bilateral agreement with Japan next month.
The local automotive industry has asked the government to remind Japan of its commitment to bring in fresh investments into the Philippines under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.