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DFA official: JPEPA not well-negotiated

Daily Tribune 11/09/2006

DFA official: JPEPA not well-negotiated

Michaela P. del Callar

A senior Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official yesterday admitted that the Philippines may not have considered its national interest during the negotiations of the controversial free trade agreement with Japan signed last September.

Edsel Custodio, DFA undersecretary for international economic relations said Manila was unable to clarify its concerns during the negotiations of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa).

“We will try to engage in negotiation and dialogue on the basis of defined national interest but the Philippines was not able to clarify national interest and concern and the Jpepa is a case in point,” Custodio said in his closing remarks during the Asia-Europe Meeting assessment forum in Manila.

Under the Jpepa, Japan has the freedom to dump its toxic wastes and hazardous materials into the Philippines.

But Japan maintained that they will only export wastes to the country if the Philippine government would allow it.

Despite the provision, Japan stressed that they remain strongly committed to the strict enforcement of the 1989 Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Toxic and Hazardous Wastes, to which Japan and the Philippines are both signatories. The convention prevents any illegal export of toxic and hazardous wastes to the Philippines.

“The government of Japan has an established legal framework based on the Basel Convention and has been enforcing strict export/import control, which does not allow any export of toxic and hazardous wastes to another country, including the Philippines, unless the government of such country approves such export,” the Japanese Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

It also cited the meeting between Philippine Trade Secretary Peter Favila and Japanese counterpart Minister Akira Amari where both officials reaffirmed the commitment of the two governments to enforce the Basel Convention.

Meanwhile, Japan expressed hope that the Jpepa, which was signed in Helsinki, Finland, in Sept.9, will come into force at the earliest possible date.

A copy of the agreement has been transmitted to the Senate for approval.

Earlier, DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo defended the pact, saying the Jpepa was “very well-negotiated.”

The Department of Trade and Industry is the lead negotiating agency on the Jpepa.

“It took so long. In fact I thought really that will be finalized when we were in Laos three years ago. But (the delay was) precisely because it was subjected to a ‘fine-tooth comb’ including the legal provisions and everything,” he said.

 source: Daily Tribune