Tañada’s group urges Roxas to withdraw support for JPEPA

Posted in the January 22, 2008 edition of Inquirer.net
By Ronnel Domingo

MANILA, Philippines — Fair trade advocates chided Senator Mar Roxas II on Tuesday for supporting the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement even as they renewed calls for renegotiation of the treaty.

Former senator Wigberto Tañada, now the lead convener of the multi-sectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade), said the group hoped that Roxas would change his mind.

Tañada said Roxas admitted there was nothing or little to gain in ratifying JPEPA but that the country would be left behind if the Philippines would not ratify the pact.

“FairTrade thought that Senator Roxas, after several public hearings on JPEPA, was able to see the economic imbalances in the treaty and the serious constitutional flaws, and that it was inferior to the agreements entered into by Japan with Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand,” Tañada said.

“(We) cannot accept a ‘tabla-talo’ or tie-lose scenario as Roxas described the JPEPA,” he added. “What we want is a win-win situation, a mutually beneficial economic partnership.”

Tañada added that while FairTrade was not against economic partnership with Japan, the country “must be cautious about entering into these trade arrangements so that in the end, it will truly serve and support the national development agenda of the country.”

Also, FairTrade disputed the assertions that more Philippine goods and services would have access to the Japanese market if JPEPA were ratified.

According to the group, 90 percent of Philippine exports to Japan was already enjoying duty-free access, with or without JPEPA.

On the other hand, local industries would suffer because JPEPA would allow the entry of used clothing or ukay-ukay and second-hand vehicles to the Philippines.

“Renegotiation of the treaty has been the position of FairTrade from the very start because of these inherent economic and constitutional questions,” Tañada said.

He said the Senate must correct the “patently one-sided” contents in JPEPA so that it could effectively benefit Philippine industries.

“This is the only way to make JPEPA acceptable.” he said. “Japan, on the other hand, must understand and see that the Philippines is not asking for more than what (Tokyo) already gave to the other Asian countries.”

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