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Japan reneges on JPEPA commitment

Manila Standard, Philippines

Japan reneges on JPEPA commitment

by Julito G. Rada

8 November 2011

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.

“One of the commitments of Japan under the agreement was to bring new investments in the local auto industry. But there were none since the agreement was signed a few years ago,” a source told Manila Standard.

“We hope this matter would be taken up in the review,” the source said, adding the government should have a firm stand on the issue.

The Philippines and Japan are set to review the trade agreement next month since signing it in September 2006 in Helsinki, Finland.

An official of the Trade Department confirmed the commitment from Japan. “Based on the JPEPA agreement, the commitment is they will invest,” he said.

“But there were few investments in the local auto industry from Japan. And we cannot even say that those investments came because of JPEPA,” the source added.

Japanese car assemblers in the Philippines under the agreement committed to export their output in support of the local automotive industry. Ford Group Philippines so far is the lone participant in the country’s car export program.

The Philippines also committed to the JPEPA to reduce to zero the tariffs on imports of trucks and light commercial vehicles from Japan with an engine displacement of three liters and above. The zero tariff took effect in July last year.

The government earlier said it would lose P100 million a year in revenue from the zero tariff on such vehicles.

The Trade official said the government lowered the tariffs under the agreement. “So we don’t know why Japan failed to honor its commitments under the JPEPA,” he said.

The trade agreement also provided employment opportunities for Filipino nurses and caregivers in Japan.

The Philippines is set to ask Japan to ease the requirements on Filipino nurses and caregivers working in Japan.