PJEPA review reset to January

Manila Bulletin | December 14, 2011

PJEPA review reset to January

By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

MANILA, Philippines — Negotiations for the general review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA) original schedule this month have been moved to January next year.

Lead trade negotiator Trade and Industry undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said both countries have agreed to re-schedule the 4th Meeting of the PJEPA Joint Committee, which will discuss, among other issues, the general review of the trade agreement.

In a Note Verbale from the Embassy of Japan, the Japanese government has requested the Philippines for an alternative date for the 4th Joint Committee Meeting. The review discussions will continue next year.

In the 3rd Meeting of the PJEPA Joint Committee held on February 28, 2011, the Philippines and Japan agreed to conduct preliminary talks on the general review through the various Sub-Committees under PJEPA. Since then, the Sub-Committees on Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Investments, and Movement of Natural Persons (Nurses and Careworkers) have been meeting to initiate talks on the general review. The 4th Meeting of the PJEPA Joint Committee will then discuss the results of these various Sub-Committee meetings.

To prepare the government for the General Review, the Department of Trade and Industry has held nationwide consultations in preparation for the PJEPA general review, “We are consolidating comments gathered from our stakeholders during the PJEPA consultations held nationwide. The major points raised by businesses, academe, and civil society are being considered in the development of the Philippine agenda for the forthcoming review," said Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy Adrian Cristobal Jr.

The DTI launched early this year “One Country, One Voice,” a series of public consultations on trade policy, including the PJEPA. The consultations were held in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao as well as among Filipino nurses and businesses in Japan. More than 300 representatives from the academe, civil society, business sector, and government agencies have participated in the consultations.

Generally, stakeholders have commented on the need to raise the tariff rate quota (TRQ) for agricultural exports to Japan and access to technical assistance to support capacity building in developing standards and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.Issues on the movement of natural persons, specifically for nurses, were also raised.

Aside from the public consultations, the DTI is forming a consortium of academic institutions to conduct research on economic impact studies of the country’s trade agreements as well as consolidate available papers on various studies regarding the same subject.

Since the ratification of PJEPA, Japan remained among the Philippines’ top trading partners. Japan ranked number 1 in 2010, with trade amounting to US$14.5B, accounting for 13.73% of the total trade of the Philippines.

In 2007 following the signing of the PJEPA, a 92% surge in investments were recorded by the Board of Investments, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and Clark Development Corporation in various industries.

Immediately after the ratification, Japan’s share in the Philippines’ total foreign direct investments rose to 58% in 2009 from 9% in 2008. This level of growth was also sustained at the level of 28% in 2010.

Aside from trade and investments, Japan has been a major source of Official Development Assistance (ODA), accounting for one-third of ODA to the Philippines in 2008. From 1967 to 2008, Japan has extended US$20.56B development assistance to the country. It was also a major source of remittances from over 200, 000 Filipino workers in Japan.

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source: Manila Bulletin