Asia Times, 1 July 2005
Labor issues to delay Japan-Philippines FTA
MANILA - The signing of an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the Philippines is likely to be pushed back to at least the end of the year due to disagreements over investment protections and quotas for care providers.
In November 2004, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reached a basic agreement, centering around a free-trade pact, on such provisions as allowing Filipino workers into Japan. But negotiations have been bogged down on such issues as the specific quota for nurses and care providers, as well as a dispute resolution framework for protecting Japanese investments.
Japan’s proposal to limit the quota on nursing care providers to 200 was rejected as too low by the Philippine side during administrative-level talks.
As for a regime to safeguard investments, Japanese negotiators have called for implementing a dispute resolution system based on international law. But the Philippine side opposes such a framework, citing the high cost of hiring attorneys versed in international law.
The Philippine contingent is also seeking the inclusion of a pledge by Japanese auto makers to increase investments in the Philippines.
The basic agreement did not outline a timetable for putting the accord into effect, but both governments had expected to sign the pact by the fall and adopt it by the beginning of 2006. If the signing is pushed back to the end of the year, it would likely take effect in mid-2006 or later.