Group seeks JPEPA renegotiation

Published in the January 23, 2008 issue of the Manila Bulletin

Former Senator Wigberto Tañada, lead convenor of the multi-sectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade), is hoping that Senator Mar Roxas, who is now proposing the full ratification of JPEPA, will still change his mind.

Based from media reports, Sen. Roxas admits there is no or little gain in ratifying JPEPA, but that the country will be left behind if we do not ratify it. He said JPEPA is a case of “tabla-talo” (tie-lose).

“FairTrade thought that Sen. Roxas, after several public hearings on JPEPA, was able to see the economic balances 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. The Filipino people cannot accept a ‘tablo-talo’ scenario. What we want is a win-win situation, a mutually beneficial economic partnership,” Tañada said.

“We are not against economic partnership with any country, in this case Japan, because this is not inevitable under a more globalized economic environment. But we 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,” Tanada emphasized.

FairTrade also argued that it is not true that more market opening will happen if there is JPEPA, in fact as of now close to 90 percent of Philippine exports to Japan are already enjoying duty-free access to Japan, whether there is JPEPA or not. On the other hand, local industries will suffer because JPEPA allows the entry of used clothing (ukay-ukay) and second-hand vehicles to the Philippines.

“That is why from the very start the position of the Alliance is to renegotiate the treaty because of these inherent economic and constitutional questions. The Senate must correct these patently onesided contents in JPEPA so that it will effectively benefit Philippine industries and the Filipino people.

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