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PGMA hopes Senate will ratify JPEPA soonest

PGMA hopes Senate will ratify JPEPA soonest

23 March 2007

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed hope Friday that the Senate would "ratify speedily" the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) so as to enhance the facilitation of goods and services between the Philippines and Japan.

"We should have done it at the same time with the anti-terror bill," the President said during an interview with Japan’s Jiji Press at Malacañang’s Orchids Room this morning.

The President said the assurance from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Japan would care about the Philippine environment would hopefully pave the way for the JPEPA’s ratification by the Senate.

The President transmitted to the Senate last Nov. 17 the certified true copy of the JPEPA together with the Instrument of Ratification for the latter’s consideration.

"At the end of the day, it’s still their (the senators) call. We can only propose," the President said.

She said the Philippines would benefit from the JPEPA’s eventual implementation as Japan would be "opening up its agricultural market for the Philippines."

"It (JPEPA) is beyond market access. It includes human resource development, financial services, information and technology, energy and environment, science and technology, transportation and infrastructure," the President said.

She added that Japan would also be opening up its health care services market, where Filipino nurses and care givers would be allowed to work in Japan.

The JPEPA was signed on Sept. 9, 2006 by President Arroyo and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the sidelines of the 6th Asia-Europe Meeting held in Helsinki, Finland

The agreement would strengthen the economic cooperation between the Philippines and Japan through increased cross-border flow of goods, persons, investments and services.

It also provides for the protection of intellectual property rights, controlling ant-competitive activities and improvement of business environment.

Among the salient points of the JPEPA are the following:

Almost 95 percent of Philippine exports will face zero duties; Both parties shall eliminate the tariffs on almost all industrial goods within 10 years from the date of entry into force; Access to the Japanese market of Philippine service providers will be enhanced and non-discriminatory treatment, with limited exceptions, will be guaranteed; A formal arrangement for the acceptance of Philippine nurses and care givers into Japan will be established. Concurring with the ratification of the JPEPA were the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Tariff Commission, and the Department of Justice (DOJ). (PNA)