Japan ‘very pleased’ with Jpepa—embassy

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila

Japan ‘very pleased’ with Jpepa—embassy

By Jerry E. Esplanada

21 February 2012

Japan is very pleased with the economic fruits of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), which has made “significant strides” since it came into force in 2008, according to the Japanese Embassy in Pasay City.

Kenji Hirai, the embassy media and information officer, on Monday cited, among other things, the “very encouraging” trade and investment relations between Tokyo and Manila.

That is, “despite the global economic crisis and the difficult economic situation that Japan and the Philippines have to face during these times,” Hirai told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Hirai said the Japanese government expects that “the smooth and effective implementation of Jpepa will lead to enhanced trade and investment relations between the two countries, which will further benefit and invigorate the Philippine economy.”

“The Japanese government hopes the economic relations between the two countries will continue to develop in 2012 based on the recent positive trend of expansion in both trade and investment under Jpepa,” he said.

Hirai noted that the “trade volume between the two countries increased in 2010 compared to 2009.”

“Philippine exports to Japan rose from $6.21 billion in 2009 to $7.8 billion in 2010, pushing Japan back to the position of biggest importer. Philippine imports from Japan grew from $5.35 billion in 2009 to $6.75 billion in 2010, [also] maintaining Japan as the biggest exporter,” he said.

Japan “remains the biggest investor in the Philippines with total investments of P58.3 billion in 2010. In the past five years, accumulated Japanese direct investment in the Philippines amounted to P203.8 billion,” said Hirai.

According to the embassy official, Japan “continues to make every effort to smoothly implement the Jpepa through the active utilization of its joint committee and subcommittees (on the pact).”

Joint committee meetings

“Japan and the Philippines will have joint committee meetings, the last of which was held in February 2011 that wrapped up the results of the subcommittee meetings… Both governments are currently in consultation regarding the schedules of relevant subcommittee meetings and the next joint committee meeting. Concrete dates have yet to be confirmed,” he said.

Last year, Jpepa subcommittees “conducted meetings on trade in goods, investment, rules of origin, movement of persons and improvement of the business environment,” Hirai said.

Happy to see good results

In January 2011, then Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Makoto Katsura said they were “happy to see very good results since the entry into force of the Jpepa.”

Katsura cited the growth of Philippine exports to Japan, which he called a “tangible result of the entry into force of Jpepa.”

The envoy expressed confidence Tokyo and Manila would work toward full implementation of the pact, which was signed on Sept. 9, 2006, in Helsinki, Finland, by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Two years later, the Jpepa was ratified by the Philippine Senate.

Earlier, the pact spawned controversy pertaining to its provisions prohibiting the transport of toxic waste to either country and on the recruitment of Filipino health care workers to Japan.

Jpepa aims to, among other things, liberalize and facilitate trade in goods and services between the two countries; increase investment opportunities; enhance protection of intellectual property; promote transparency in government procurement; and establish a framework for further bilateral cooperation and improvement of the Philippine business environment.

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