Send JPEPA Back to the negotiating table, FairTrade says

The multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) urges the Senate to renegotiate the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

Former senator and lead convenor of FairTrade Wigberto Tañada said, “Instead of ratifying it by the Senate, JPEPA must be remanded back to the negotiating table to purge its imbalances.”

“The prudent action of the Senate is to withhold concurrence on JPEPA and make the correction now and get back to the negotiating table to make our relations with Japan a fair, just, balanced and a sustainable one.”

As reflected in its position paper, FairTrade is not convinced that JPEPA is a good template for a productive, balanced and win-win trade and economic partnership between two countries. A closer scrutiny of the 1,000-page partnership text shows that there are imbalances which need to be corrected.

According to FairTrade, Japan got what they wanted in JPEPA but it seems that the Philippines doesn’t even know what it wants. The deal is good for Japan but it is bad for the Philippines. It is clear that Japan knows their development priorities. They know where they are coming from. Japan wants the ASEAN region to be firmly in its sphere of influence, to support its trade and development agenda. It wants the region to remain a reliable source of agricultural and raw materials for Japan, a secure market for Japanese goods and an integral part of the global production chain of Japanese multinational companies.

“The question is: do we also know where we are coming from? Do we have a clear vision of what we want this country to achieve with the various trade agreements and not just JPEPA?” Tañada asked.

FairTrade pointed out that although President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may have already ratified the trade pact the Constitution says that it cannot be implemented without the concurrence of the Senate.

“We respectfully remind our Senators the mandate of our Constitution under Article 12 Section 13 which states that: ‘The State shall pursue a trade policy that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms of arrangements on the basis of equality and reciprocity.’ FairTrade believes that there are huge imbalances in JPEPA and these imbalances should first be purged if we want to grow economically and reduce poverty in our country,” Tañada added.

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  • Founded in 2001, the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) of the Philippines is a broad multisectoral coalition of formal and informal labor, industry, agriculture, NGOs and youth pushing for trade and economic reforms.
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