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Philippines hopes to seal free trade deal with Japan in November

Dow Jones News, 11 October 2005

Philippines Hopes To Seal Free Trade Deal With Japan Nov

By Cris Larano, Dow Jones Newswires

Edited by Gauri Bhatia

MANILA -(Dow Jones)- The Philippines hopes to secure a deal with Japan by next month on the proposed free trade agreement.

"I will try hard to get it done in time for the Asean Leaders Meeting in November, before the WTO," Philippine Trade Secretary Peter Favila told reporters at the sidelines of the Philippine Business Conference Tuesday.

The World Trade Organization meets in Hong Kong in December.

The Philippines is pushing for a more flexible tariff reduction schedule because the government needs revenue to fill a yawning budget gap.

Favila had hoped to seal the proposed Japanese-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement in September, but a final deal was stalled because of unresolved trade and immigration issues.

Trade officials said disagreements on trade and services have been ironed out, while immigration issues maybe resolved ifthe two countries agree to an arrangement similar to the one Japan entered with Thailand.

Japan has agreed to ease entry requirements for Thai cooks, and instructors of traditional Thai dances, music, cuisine, boxing and language. Japan and Thailand are still in talks regarding the entry of caregivers and spa managers.

Trade officials said Japanese and Philippine negotiators are working on safeguards against a possible surge in imported products not yet bound by the WTO.

 source: Dow Jones