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
Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party has asked the Philippine Supreme Court to stop the government from finalizing an economic agreement with Japan, which the party-list group alleges contains a provision that will allow this country to trade its hazardous and toxic waste products.
THE Philippines and Japan are working double time to be able to firm up within this year their long-delayed economic pact aimed at easing trade restrictions between the two nations.
Japan has urged the Philippines to restart talks on the stalled negotiations of the bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) so they can conclude all negotiations within the month. The Philippines has remained non-committal until a case filed by civic groups with the Supreme Court, seeking a temporary restraining order to bar the Philippine government from concluding the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Japan, is resolved.
The Japanese are keen on resolving contentious issues on the automotive sector under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement within the month.
The Philippines hopes to secure a deal with Japan by next month on the proposed free trade agreement.
The Philippines will push for a provision in a planned free-trade deal with Japan that would allow renegotiation on motor vehicle tariffs by 2009.
The number of Filipino nurses and caregivers who will be allowed to enter Tokyo under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) remains to be among the contentious issues preventing both parties from sealing a bilateral accord.
Negotiations regarding the Philippine-Japan trade accord may be delayed until 2006, four months behind the government’s schedule, because of the continued delay in the proceedings.
AKBAYAN Rep. Mayong Aguja today scored the Department of Trade and Industry and the Executive for failing to fully disclose and inform the public of the exact contents of the Japan Philippines EPA.
Ford Motor Group in the Philippines has put up a strong pressure on the government against signing a free trade pact with Japan that will put its assembly and exports program in the country at a disadvantage over Japanese assemblers.