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The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA): Surrendering sovereignty and development

IBON Facts & Figures
Manila, 31 July 2007

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA): Surrendering Sovereignty and Development

To hear its proponents speak, the Japan-Philippines Economic
Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is a magical deal that should
have been sealed long ago. Department of Trade and Industry
(DTI) Secretary Peter B. Favila says that “Benefits from the JPEPA will
accrue to almost all sectors of the economy” and that it “[secures] export
markets, [provides] jobs and [reduces] poverty for our farmers and
fishermen”. [1] There are also research studies that estimate a positive
impact on Philippine GDP from a tiny 0.09% to as much as 1.7% to
3.3%, with the higher figures based on the uncertain and hazy
assumption that “potential foreign investment inflows and productivity
gains arising from JPEPA can materialize”. [2]

These are amazing claims for such a patently
destructive and unequal deal. The JPEPA’s
liberalization policies will further erode the Philippine
economy which is already reeling from decades of “free
market” reengineering. The deal is also patently
unequal and ignores how advanced industrial capitalist
Japan and backward agrarian Philippines are at vastly
different levels of development with vastly different
needs - not to mention that Japan even aims to meet
many of its needs at the expense of the Philippines.
The JPEPA maintains the “globalization” deceit that
“free market” policies offer the path to development,
even if the main impulse of such policies is really to
further open up Third World human and natural
resources as profitable opportunities for foreign
corporate monopolies. The JPEPA even one-sidedly
demands much greater trade and investment
liberalization from the Philippines than Japan makes.

The JPEPA was negotiated away from public scrutiny
for some four years until it was signed on the sidelines
of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Helsinki,
Finland in September 2006. In January 2002, then
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi proposed
the Initiative for Japan-Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) Comprehensive Economic
Partnership. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo immediately expressed her full support and
later created a Philippine Coordinating Committee
(PCC) co-chaired by the Department of Trade and
Industry (DTI) secretary and Department of Foreign
Affairs (DFA) undersecretary for international relations.
Informal consultations, working groups and joint
committee meetings were held between officials of the
two countries and formal negotiations were launched in
December 2003. Formal sessions took place from
February 2004 to July 2005, followed by the legal

The Japanese Diet, or parliament, quickly approved the
JPEPA in the first week of December. The Philippine
executive in turn submitted the deal for ratification by
the Senate where it has been pending since Congress
went on recess in February 2007 in preparation for the
May 2007 mid-term elections. Japan, according to
Japanese Ambassador to Manila Ryuichiro Yamazaki,
“look[s] forward to [the] prompt ratification and [the]
going into effect” of the JPEPA which “will certainly
make our bilateral economic relations more
comprehensive, more interactive, and more mutually
beneficial.” [3] In her recent trip to Japan, President
Arroyo in turn hailed the JPEPA as “a milestone in our
relationship [with Japan]” and held that all that was
needed to quell mounting opposition is to “explain
very carefully the advantages of the agreement to our
Filipino farmers, fishermen, food processors and our
nurses and caregivers.” [4] The deal is undoubtedly
beneficial - for big Japanese corporations and elite
corporate interests in the Philippines, and not for the
Filipino people.

To read the rest of this release, please download the attached PDF file.


[1Department of Trade and Industry (2006), Trade Advisory:
JPEPA Signed/On September 9, 2006, President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
signed the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership
Agreement (JPEPA).

[2Caesar Cororaton (2003), “Phil-Japan Bilateral Agreement:
Analysis of Possible Effects on Unemployment, Distribution
and Poverty in the Philippines Using CGE Microsimulation
Approach” cited in Josef T. Yap, Erlinda M. Medalla and
Rafaelita M. Aldaba (2006), “Assessing the Japan Philippines
Economic Partnership Agreement”, Philippine Institute for
Development Studies (PIDS), 2006.

[3Veronica Uy (2006), “Japan expects ‘prompt ratification’ of
trade pact”,, posted November 30, 2006.

[4Office of the Press Secretary (2007), “RP won’t be dumping
ground of Japanese toxic wastes - PGMA”, News release,
May 23, 2007

 source: IBON