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Palace rushes EO on tariff changes sought by Jpepa

Business Mirror, Manila

Palace rushes EO on tariff changes sought by Jpepa

By Max V. de Leon / Reporter

28 October 2008

Malacanang is rushing to issue before November 9 an executive order that will implement the tariff modifications required under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa).

Under the Tariff and Customs Code, the President can only issue executive orders (EO) changing the country’s tariff structure when Congress is not in session, since it is just a delegated power to the Chief Executive. Congress resumes session, on November 10.

A ranking official who requested not to be named said the EO implementing the tariff modifications is compulsory, for the Philippines and Japan to be able to exchange of notes notifying each other they have completed all requirements and be able to go ahead with the implementation of the trade agreement.

“If we meet the deadline, the Jpepa will be in force by December 10 because the agreement takes effect 30 days after the exchange of notes,” said the official, indicating that the target date for the exchange of notes is November 10.

The Committee on Tariff and Related Matters, which is to draft the EO, convened on Tuesday at the Board of Investments office in Makati, to begin work on the draft EO.

Under the Jpepa, the Philippines extends tariff concessions, such as those on Japanese cars with under 3-liter engine displacements, to 29 percent from the present 30 percent on the first year of the pact, dropping all the way to zero on the fifth year.

Both countries can, however, renegotiate by 2009 if they will proceed with the end-date of the tariff elimination.

The Philippine Senate ratified the Jpepa this month after a protracted debate.