Japan, ASEAN sign free trade accord

Xinhua, China

Japan, ASEAN sign free trade accord

28 March 2008

TOKYO, March 28 (Xinhua) — Japan signed a free trade agreement Friday with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote trade and investment between the two sides.

Under the accord, Japan will eliminate tariffs on 93 percent by value of imports from ASEAN within 10 years while six major ASEAN members — Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand — will abolish tariffs on 90 percent of imports from Japan within 10 years in terms of both value and the number of items.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura signed the agreement with the 10-member body, and the document, which will come into effect in Autumn, is expected to be endorsed by respective ASEAN members within April.

The deal was finalized last November after two and a half years of negotiations. The two sides have been fine-tuning the wording and other procedures ever since.

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  • Japan, ASEAN sign free trade accord30-March-2008 | Edwin A. Mendoza

    I am surprised that JPEPA has yet to be ratified and implemented. Although the Philippines is a member-state of ASEAN, it is not one of the more prominent members, as are Singapore and Thailand. The purpose of these arrangements is to guarantee preferential treatment between all consenting parties. The contracts, or roots of origins, for such conditions are binding to exclude any influences outside of this sphere. To ride the momentum of economic development in Southeast Asia will not benefit the Philippines as much as much as the direct access to Japanese markets under JPEPA stipulations. Granted, there were unfavorable conditions which had the potential of widening the disparity in development between the two economies (namely, Japanese access to Philippine dumping grounds, and resource markets of iron ore), but continued direct interaction cannot be accomplished with the consideration of the interests of the rest of the ASEAN members who appear more ambitious in their quest to develop. This, along with continued infrastructural development and added checks to corruption, had the potential propel the Philippines on higher trajectory than the more pluralistic Japan-ASEAN agreement.

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