Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)

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Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines, with Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is a free-trade agreement and bilateral investment treaty between Japan and the Philippines, and is the first bilateral trade treaty which the Philippines has entered since the Parity Right Agreement of 1946 with the United States [1]. It was signed by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on 09 September 2006, in Helsinki, Finland.

The JPEPA consists of 16 Chapters and 165 Articles, with 8 Annexes.

Contents

Objectives

According to Chapter 1 (General Provisions), Article 1 (Objectives) of the JPEPA, the agreement has the following objectives [2]:

  • to liberalize and facilitate trade in goods and services between Japan and the Philippines
  • facilitate the mutual recognition of the results of conformity assessment procedures for products or processes
  • increase investment opportunities and strengthen protection for investments and investment activities in Japan and the Philippines
  • enhance protection of intellectual property and strengthen cooperation in the field thereof to promote trade and investment between Japan and the Philippines
  • promote transparency in government procurement
  • promote competition by addressing anti-competitive activities and cooperate in the field of competition
  • establish a framework for further bilateral cooperation and improvement of business environment
  • promote transparency in the implementation of laws and regulations respecting matters covered by this Agreement
  • create effective procedures for the implementation and operation of this Agreement and for the resolution of disputes

Timeline [3]

  • January 2002 – PM Koizumi proposed the Initiative for Japan-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Partnership
  • December 2002 -Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippines’ President Gloria Arroyo announcement of interest to forge economic partnership between the two countries
  • March 2003 – informal start study by Philippine Institute for Development Studies
  • May 2003 – Creation of Philippine Coordinating Committee, with DFA Usec for International Economic Relations and DTI Secretary for International Trade as Co-chairs
  • November 2003 – Presentation of study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies
  • February 2004 to July 2005 – Formal negotiating sessions
  • July to October 2005 – Legal Review
  • September 2006 – Signing of JPEPA


Ratification

The JPEPA was ratified by the Philippine Senate on October 8, 2008, after two side agreements had been signed where Japan agreed to not send any toxic waste to the Philippines and to avoid violating the Philippine Constitution.

Controversy

One of the main concerns regarding JPEPA is the possibility of having Japan export their waste products and hazardous materials to the Philippines. Such products are included in Article 29 of the agreement, which defines "originating goods. [2]"

Under Article 18 of the agreement, both Japan and the Philippines shall either "reduce or eliminate its customs duties, [2]" "eliminate other duties or charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with the importation , [2]" and take part in "improving market access conditions [2]" for originating goods.

The provision under controversy is under Article 29, wherein "originating goods" produced by a Party includes the following [2]

"(i) articles collected in the Party which can no longer perform their original purpose in the Party nor are capable of being restored or repaired and which are fit only for disposal or for the recovery of parts or raw materials;

(j) scrap and waste derived from manufacturing or processing operations or from consumption in the Party and fit only for disposal or for the recovery of raw materials;

(k) parts or raw materials recovered in the Party from articles which can no longer perform their original purpose nor are capable of being restored or repaired; and

(l) goods obtained or produced in the Party exclusively from the goods referred to in subparagraphs (a) through (k) above.''"

Environmentalists cry foul over this provision, stating that various laws are bound to be violated if the agreement pushes through. Under the Constitution alone, it is imperative that the State promotes the people's right to health (Article II, Section 15), and right to a balanced and healthful ecology (Article II, Section 16). Other laws that may be violated include Republic Act No. 6969 (Toxic Substance and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Act of 1990) which prohibits the entry of hazardous wastes into and their disposal within the country for whatever purpose, and Republic Act No. 4653 (An Act to Safeguard the Health of the People and Maintain the Dignity of the Nation by Declaring it a National Policy to Prohibit the Commercial Importation of Textile Articles Commonly Known as Used Clothing and Rags) wherein worn clothing and other worn articles, used or new rags, scrap twine, cordage, rope and cables and worn out articles of twine, cordage, rope or cables, of textile materials are also prohibited from being imported into the Philippines [4].

Aside from local laws, one international treaty is also said to be a direct contradiction to the JPEPA. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was ratified in 1989 by 133 countries and is currently adopted by 170 countries, including Japan and the Philippines [4]. It is the most comprehensive global environmental treaty on hazardous and other wastes, addressing cleaner production, hazardous waste minimization and controls on the movement of these wastes.

References

1. aAtty. Tanya Lat (23 May 2007)The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement: An Act of Economic Treason. Global Union Research Network. Accessed on 15 April 2008.

2. a b c d e Agreement Between the Republic of the Philippines and Japan for an Economic Partnership. Full text of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement. The Daily PCIJ. Accessed on 15 April 2008.

3. a Dr. Erlinda Medalla (20 July 2007) On the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). Powerpoint presentation for JPEPA in Focus: Understanding the Issues and Prospects (Download). Accessed on 15 April 2008.

4. a b Alecks P. Pabico (25 October 2006) JPEPA to encourage trade in hazardous and toxic waste. The Daily PCIJ. Accessed on 16 April 2008.

Links

JPEPA Full Text http://pcij.org/blog/wp-docs/JPEPA.pdf (via Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism http://www.pcij.org)


Citation

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