Jpepa no cause for worry, says DTI

By Angelo S. Samonte
Published on the October 26, 2006 issue of the Manila Times

The Department of Trade and Industry on Wednesday played down reports that the Philippines would become Japan’s waste dump under the recently signed Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

“The Jpepa clause indicating the entry of toxic waste to the Philippines doesn’t mean anything,” Trade Secretary Peter B. Favila told reporters at a briefing. “The public has nothing to worry. These wastes will not enter the Philippines because we are protected by our own environmental laws including our international commitments on the disposal of toxic wastes.”

Favila admitted that while hazardous waste was one of the items with low tariffs under Jpepa, the Philippines also included its own generated waste under the agreement.

“Of course we will not allow our priority products to be traded with lower tariff that’s why we included wastes in the agreement. However, this doesn’t mean that we’ll allow the entry of waste in our country. This is a strategy so that Japan wouldn’t ask for products that needs protection,” he said.

He clarified, however, that the agreement doesn’t necessarily mean Japan could easily dump toxic waste in the Philippines. “It will not happen because the Philippines and Japan are signatories [to] the World Trade Organization and the Basel Convention that prohibit disposal of hazardous waste from one country to another. Besides, we have our own laws that protect us from the threats of imported toxic waste,” Favila said.

Fair Trade Alliance (FTA), a nongovernment group that has been seeking government openness over the trade deal, said it would bring the issue before Congress because the trade agreement has to be concluded there before the President ratifies it.

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