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Philippines needs safety nets in trade pact with Japan

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Philippines Needs Safety Nets In Trade Pact With Japan

By Komfie Manalo - AHN News Writer

6 June 2007

Manila, Philippines (AHN) — A senior senator in the Philippines on Wednesday said the Philippine government must impose safety nets to safeguard the jobs of thousands of Filipino workers particularly in the garments, electric appliances, and automobile assembly sectors, who stand to lose their jobs if the trade deal with Japan goes through.

Senator Manuel A. Roxas II, made the warning as Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is pressing the Senate to ratify the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement after her visit to Tokyo recently.

Arroyo has been pressuring the Senate to ratify the deal after Japan issued their concerns for the early approval of the trade deal.

Roxas who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs cited a study showing 20 percent of Philippine products covered under the JPEPA will be at a disadvantage because the trade pact calls for the reduction of duties on Japanese exports to the Philippines to zero from the current 10 percent and 30 percent.

In a statement, Roxas said, "The domestic industries that would be affected are in garments, electronics such as toasters, washing machines and cooking ranges, and automobiles and spare parts."

These sectors are the country’s top dollar exports, the senator adds.

Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi and Arroyo signed the agreement in Helsinki in September 2006.

It includes measures to ensure the smooth movement of people, capital and information, and covers areas like investment and trade facilitation, as well as cooperation in science and technology, human resource development, small and medium enterprises, and the environment.

Environmentalists in the Philippines also lobbied for the rejection of the deal saying some provision in JPEPA will allow the entry of hazardous industrial wastes from Japan.