INQUIRER.net | Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
SC urged to rule against implementation of Japan-Philippine trade deal
By: Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines – A multisectoral group urged the Supreme Court to rule on its petition filed in 2008 that sought to stop the implementation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
“The JPEPA continues to wreak havoc in our domestic agriculture and industry. The agreement even attacks our national sovereignty,” Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) executive director Mars Mendoza said in a statement.
“Now that JPEPA is in the implementation stage even without the final determination of the agreement’s Constitutionality, the unevenness of the agreement is clearly out in the open,” the petitioner said.
FairTrade said that the presentation made by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) at the House of Representatives’ special committee on globalization and WTO hearing last January 26 showed that Philippines’ market share in Japan increased.
However, FairTrade said that total imports of Japan from the Philippines declined after JPEPA.
Japan’s imports from the Philippines before JPEPA were 7,959,972 in 2006; 8,731,229 in 2007 and 8,426,185 in 2008. These figures are way high compared to Japan’s total imports from the Philippines of 6,333,769 after JPEPA.
The agreement that promises free trade and facilitates the flow of goods, persons, services, and capital between the two countries was ratified by the Senate in 2008.
FairTrade said it wanted an immediate resolution to its 2008 petition because of the on-going general review of the JPEPA.
“Allowing the review to proceed without ruling on whether or not the JPEPA is constitutional will allow the violation of the Philippine Constitution and laws to continue,” it said.
It said that no less than the WTO found that JPEPA was a one-sided agreement in favor of Japan. Among the imbalances noted by the WTO were:
– Japan would eliminate 90.9 percent of tariffs over a 15 year period while the Philippines would eliminate 98.6 percent of tariffs over a 10 year implementation period.
– Japan’s disproportionate liberalization between its industrial and agricultural sectors when it would eliminate duties on 90.9% of all tariff lines, covering 91.2% of imports from the Philippines under the Agreement. Although 97% of Japan’s non-agricultural tariffs would become duty-free, only 64.8% of its agricultural tariff lines would be duty-free under the Agreement. In comparison, the Philippines would eliminate tariffs on 98.6% of all tariff lines, covering 97.1% of imports from Japan under the Agreement. Of these, 98.5% of non-agricultural lines and 99.2% of agricultural lines would be duty-free under the Agreement.
FairTrade said such an observation showed that JPEPA contradicted a provision of the Constitution which states that “the State shall pursue a trade policy that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms of arrangements of exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity.”
Aside from FairTrade, other petitioners include labor group Automotive Industry Workers’ Alliance (AIWA) with Congressmen Lorenzo Tañada III, Del de Guzman, Alfonso Umali, Carlos Padilla, former Senator Jovito Salonga and former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, Jr.
The joint Japan-Philippine trade agreement was first proposed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in January 2002 following President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s visit to Tokyo, but formal negotiations took off only in February 2004.