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
Photo: Karasantos / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
More Japanese investments and trade opportunities are expected to pour into the Philippines following a recent visit from one of Japan’s biggest trade groups - the Kansai Economic Federation (Kankeiren) - and the forthcoming realization of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.
Japan and the Philippines have agreed to speed up work to sign a bilateral free trade agreement and compared notes over Japan’s plan to tightening immigration control over Philippine nationals.
We - farmers, fisherfolks, rural women, workers from the formal and informal sectors, and NGOs belonging to the Stop the New Round! Coalition - express our strong opposition to the Philippines government’s mad pursuit of bilateral free trade agreements particularly with Japan, China and the USA.
Two members of the Philippine House of Representatives are pushing for a congressional inquiry into the bilateral trade and investments agreements entered into by the government, which did not go through proper public consultations despite their far-reaching impact on the economy as well as the provisions of the Constitution.
Japan and the Philippines on Monday clinched a broad free trade agreement (FTA) that would include letting a trickle of nurses into Japan to help cope with a shortage.
Japan and the Philippines reached a basic agreement for a bilateral free-trade agreement after striking a deal on the stickiest issue — steel tariffs.
The Philippines reported significant progress in talks to sign a free-trade pact by the end of the year with Japan.
Talks of a possible trade-off between the local agriculture and industrial sectors in the on-going trade negotiations for the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) are worrying various sectors.
The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, more than a trade agreement, is essentially about increasing and ensuring the free entry and operation of Japanese investors in the Philippines by limiting the role of government in regulating investments.
As the Philippines strives to get Japan to allow in Filipino health-care workers under a free-trade agreement now under negotiation, the country itself could be moving rapidly toward a crisis in which patients suffer as health-care professionals move abroad.