Philippine Daily Inquirer | Sunday, January 26th, 2014
PH to seek more concessions under deal with Japan
By Amy R. Remo
The Department of Trade and Industry is seen to press for more agricultural concessions for the country under the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the general review of which is expected to be completed this year.
“We want more access (to Japan’s market) in agriculture and freer movement of people. So far, that’s our general interest. We will be convening the Philippine panel by February and make a final assessment of our interest in the PJEPA. The completion of the general review has been delayed. We want to try and push harder to complete it this year,” said Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr.
Cristobal added that he expected the Philippine panel’s counterpart in the PJEPA to lobby for more concessions for their industrial goods, particularly in the automotive and steel sectors.
“Understandably, they will have their interest in industrial goods on top of the list—a whole variety of goods including automotive and steel. We should expect these to come up in their initial position,” Cristobal said.
“We have yet to see what their demands are,” he added.
The trade official underscored the contribution of the PJEPA to the Philippine economy as he stressed the positive gains for the country as Japan had become a significant market for exports and source of investments.
Since the signing of the PJEPA in 2006 and its ratification in 2008, the Philippines has seen an increase in trade and investments from Japan.
Total trade with Japan reached $16.35 billion by the end of 2012, with a trade balance of $3.41 billion in favor of the Philippines.
Top Philippine exports to Japan as of last year include ignition wiring sets, bananas and digital monolithic integrated circuits.
The PJEPA was signed on Sept. 9, 2006 in Helsinki, Finland between former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. It was then ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2008.
As previously reported, the PJEPA aims to liberalize and facilitate trade in goods and services between the two countries; increase investment opportunities; enhance protection of intellectual property; promote transparency in government procurement; and establish a framework for further bilateral cooperation and improvement of the Philippine business environment.