Monday, February 21, 2005

NR0221: RP-Japan trade agreement (JPEPA)

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release February 21, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Rep. Beltran calls attention to GMA trade agreement with Japan; says JPEPA should be scrutinized by Congress and Senate before Malacanang signs it

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today he file a resolution questioning the authority of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo forge a bilateral agreement with Japan - the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).She is posed to sign the JPEPA when it is completed in July with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The JPEPA is supposed to be the "first ever" economic partnership pact Japan has entered into with a country belonging to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In broad strokes, JPEPA works out arrangements between the two countries on regarding tariff rates on automobiles and human resource issues like the entry of Filipino caregivers and nurses to Japan.

But according to statement released by the Japanese embassy itself, the purposes of the Agreement are to promote a freer trans-border flow of goods, persons, services and capital between Japan and the Philippines. The Agreement also aims to promote a comprehensive economic partnership, which includes intellectual property, competition policy, improvement of business environment and bilateral cooperation in such fields as human resources development, information and communications technology and small and medium enterprises.

"This is no small agreement - this is as major as major can get. Crucial and critical aspects of the country's national economy are being reworked, and neither Congress nor the Senate has been consulted regarding this. With agreements such as the JPEPA, there's no more need for a full-blown Cha-cha process; Malacanang is already amending the Constitution by entering such trade and policy agreements unilaterally. There are grounds to say that this constitutes a strong abuse of authority," he said.

Beltran said that Pres. Arroyo's one-on-one dealings with the Japanese government have not been scrutinized by the Senate. He said trade agreements, the same as military agreements, fall under the jurisdiction of the Senate. "Again, Malacanang is acting on its own on forging an important agreement that could pose threats against the economic wellbeing of the nation and the Filipino people. The details of the JPEPA should be subjected to senate and congressional investigations to determine if they pose any serious, adverse effects to the country's economic sovereignty and protectionist laws," he said.

Through the negotiations conducted so far, both sides have reached agreements in principle on major elements of the Agreement, among them are: Trade in Goods: Tariffs of industrial products and agriculture, forestry, and fishery products will be eliminated or reduced comprehensively. Investment: The Agreement will include provisions concerning National Treatment, Most-Favored-Nation Treatment and Performance Requirement Prohibitions for the liberalization of investment and enhance transparency by specifying all exceptions to these provisions. Furthermore, provisions concerning protection of investment will also be included in the Agreement. Movement of Natural Persons The Japanese side will allow entry of Filipino candidates for qualified nurses and certified careworkers that satisfy certain requirements and will allow them to work, after completing training of Japanese language and others, as preparation for obtaining national licenses, on the assumption that the Philippine side will provide a similar framework to meet the Japanese interest. (Duration of stay: up to 3 years for nurses, 4 years for certified careworkers).


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