Asia Times, Jan 5, 2006
Japan urges Philippines to restart EPA talks
MANILA - 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.
This was disclosed by Trade and Industry Undersecretary Thomas G Aquino, the Philippines chief Japan Philippines EPA (JPEPA) negotiator. The Japanese would like to send a negotiating team this week, he said.
Aquino, however, said 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 Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is still awaiting the opinion of the Department of Justice on how to proceed with the negotiations following the filing of a temporary restraining order by civic groups.
The JPEPA was supposed to be signed by President Gloria Arroyo and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro at the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders summit in Kuala Lumpur.
The Philippines has demanded a commitment by Japanese automakers for the assembly of two models in the Philippines for each carmaker. Japan, however, has refused to commit for additional investments.
In addition, the Philippines also wants to renegotiate all automotive tariffs by 2009.
The Philippines said that its position, which is supported by the domestic automotive sector, is similar to what the Japanese has granted to Thailand under both countries trade pact.