Published online in the January 22, 2008 edition of GMANews.tv

Tutol sa ratipikasyon ng kontrobersyal na Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) maging ang kapartido ni Senador Manuel “Mar” Roxas sa Liberal Party.

Ayon kay dating Sen. Wigberto Tañada, isa mga iginagalang na kasapi ng LP, umaasa siya na nagbabago ang isip ni Roxas na naunang nagpahayag ng suporta sa pag-apruba ng JPEPA.

Si Roxas ang presidente ng LP, habang pinuno ng partido sa Kamara de Representante ang anak ni Tanada na si Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III.

Sinabi ni (Wigberto) Tañada, convenor ng Fair Trade Alliance, na ang nais ng mga Filipino ay “win-win situation,” at hindi tablo-talo na tila posisyon umano Roxas.

Unang inihayag ni Roxas na hihikayatin niya ang mga senador na suportahan ang JPEPA kahit aminado siyang maliit lamang ang magiging pakinabang ng bansa sa tratado. Nagbabala ang senador na hindi dapat mapag-iwanan ang Pilipinas sa nagaganap na ugnayan sa kalakalan ng mga bansa.

“Sen. Roxas 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 tabla-talo scenario. What we want is a win-win situation, a mutually beneficial economic partnership,” pagdiin ni Tañada.

Bagaman patuloy ang nagaganap na pagtutulungan ng mga bansa sa ilalim ng “globalized economic setting,” iginiit ni Tanada na, “the Philippines 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.”

Hindi naniniwala ang grupo ng dating senador na makakatulong ang JPEPA upang mabuksan ang merkado ng mundo para sa mga produkto ng Pilipinas.

“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,” pahayag ni Tañada.

Tutol ang ilang kritiko sa JPEPA dahil sa paniwalang magdudulot ng panganib sa kalikasan ng bansa ang mga ipapasok na “basura” mula sa Japan.

Si Roxas ang itinuturing pambato ng LP sa panguluhang halalan sa 2010 elections. – Fidel Jimenez

Published online in the January 22, 2008 edition of GMANews.TV

Former senator Wigberto Tañada on Tuesday said he was hoping that Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas would still change his position supporting the ratification of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

Tañada, convenor of the Fair Trade Alliance, said that what the Filipinos wanted “is a win-win situation,” and not a tablo-talo or tie-lose scenario, which Roxas said would be the likely effect of nodding to JPEPA.

Earlier, Roxas reportedly said that while the Philippines would have little or no gain in ratifying JPEPA, the country would be left behind if it won’t approve the agreement.

“Sen. Roxas…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.

Tañada said that while partnership with other countries was “inevitable under a more globalized economic setting,” the Philippines “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.”

The former senator’s group also belied claims that JPEPA would make international markets further open up to Philippine products.

“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,” said Tañada.

Former Senator Wigberto Tanada, 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 ‘tabla-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 one-sided contents in JPEPA so that it will effectively benefit Philippine industries and the Filipino people.

This is the only way to make JPEPA acceptable to the people. Japan, on the other hand, must understand and see that the Philippines is not asking for more than what it already gave to the other Asian countries. The Philippines is not being unreasonable,” Tanada added.

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.”

The multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) hits Ambassador Manuel Teehankee when he revealed that he’s “guessing too much” on the projected gains that the country will be getting on the JPEPA during a Senate hearing presided by Sen. Mar Roxas on Friday.

Teehankee, the Philippines’ permanent representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) told the Senate that he’s sorry for guessing too much when the Senate told him that his rosy projections the Philippines will be getting on the onset on JPEPA is not viable.

Teehankee’s statement made his fellow government officials, the Senate, civil society and other onlookers during the Senate hearing react in awe.

Labor leader and FairTrade convenor Dave Diwa said, “Based on the Ambassador’s statement, instead of relying on viable facts, data and researches what the government is telling the Senate out of all these hearings are guesses. “

“No wonder that the executive branch cannot directly cite the benefits of JPEPA. Because they are having a hard time guessing it. Is it because the researches and data on JPEPA do not provide the rosy projections they want the Senate to know, that instead of revealing the truth, they fabricate some gains out of thin air? This is impossible,” he outraged.

On the other hand, FairTrade submitted to the Senate a proposed reservations and conditions in relation to trade in goods under JPEPA made by key sectors affected by the agreement.

FairTrade’s proposal clarifies the inequities in the trade in goods in the JPEPA and outlines the needed remedies by way of trade reservations.

In the automotive sector, FairTrade proposes the inclusion on the enforcement of EO 156 or ban on used-vehicles; inclusion of a diplomatic note on automotive as part and parcel of the JPEPA agreement; inclusion of Article 27 as measures for current and future reservation and Tariff reciprocity with exporting countries i.e. Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

By Max de Leon
Published in the November 23, 2007 issue of the Business Mirror

DISCLOSE to the public the contents of the Asean-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement first before signing it.

This was the appeal aired by the multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) to the Philippine government after news broke out that negotiations between Asean member-countries and Japan have been concluded during the Asean Summit in Singapore and the agreement is now up for signing.

In a letter addressed to Trade Secretary Peter B. Favila, former senator and FairTrade lead convenor Wigberto Tañada said they were surprised to learn that the Asean-Japan economic partnership agreement has been concluded without its provisions passing through consultations with the different stakeholders.

Tañada said this is serious considering the debate for the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) is still raging in the Senate.

“We, at FairTrade, are asking: Where are the consultations regarding these agreements?  Who will be the winners and losers in this Asean-Japan deal? And why is it at this point in time that we’ll be signing the agreement when we have a Jpepa to think and worry about,” Tañada said.

He said they are afraid that the Asean-Japan trade deal will overwrite the country’s amendments and conditionalities in the Jpepa.

Included here, Tañada said, is the contentious issues on transboundary movement of toxic waste, which was initially included in Jpepa, and might be carried out in the Asean-Japan trade deal

“In the spirit of transparency, we urge the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] to shed some light to the Asean-Japan economic agreement by disclosing it before signing any agreement in Singapore,” Tañada added.

The Asean-Japan agreement covers trade in goods, services, investments, rules of origin, dispute settlement mechanism, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, technical barriers to trade, and economic cooperation. Japan also wishes to incorporate intellectual property rights in the agreement.

The FairTrade is one of the leading groups opposing the ratification of the Jpepa.

By Felipe Salvosa, II
Published in the November 21, 2007 issue of Business World

SINGAPORE — A detailed timetable seeking to establish an ASEAN Economic Community in eight years has hit the ground running, with leaders of 10 Southeast Asian countries affixing their signatures yesterday to a declaration adopting a so-called blueprint for economic integration and an attached “strategic schedule.”

But the approval of the heavily negotiated ASEAN document has also started a serious rethinking of the ambitious integration project, with individual members of the $1-trillion trading bloc continuing to seek bilateral free trade deals that could run counter to agreements that ASEAN has entered into as a group.

The ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint wants all members to bring the focus back “towards maintaining ’ASEAN Centrality’,” and states that when it comes to seeking market access elsewhere, there should be a “coherent approach.”

The blueprint ordered a review of all free trade and comprehensive economic partnership deals vis-a-vis ASEAN’s internal integration commitments, and the establishment of a system for enhanced coordination, “possibly arriving at common approaches and/or positions in ASEAN’s external economic relations and in regional and multilateral fora.”

ASEAN countries are on the record as supporting a goal of becoming a single market of 570 million people and a unified production base by 2015, with regional tariffs on around 70% of goods already scrapped. On the side, however, they are racing against each other to ink deals to penetrate more lucrative markets such as the United States, Japan, and Europe.

For example, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines have secured individual free trade agreements or FTAs with Japan. Singapore has a free trade deal with the United States while Thailand is expected to snag one soon, leaving Filipino tuna and garments exporters worried.

As a group, ASEAN is also talking trade with China, Japan, South Korea, India, and the European Union, resulting in a “noodle bowl” of overlapping free trade deals. Throughout Asia, 36 FTAs have been concluded, 41 are being negotiated, and 25 new ones have been proposed, according to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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The multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) urges the Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila to disclose the contents of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and other possible agreements before any signing takes place during the 11th ASEAN-Japan, 11th ASEAN-Republic of Korea and 6th ASEAN-India Summits.

In a letter addressed to Sec. Favila, former Senator and FairTrade lead convenor Wigberto Tañada cited the ASEAN summit taking place on November 18 to 22 in Singapore wherein the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is slated to be inked.

“We, at FairTrade, are asking: where are the consultations regarding these agreements?  Who will be the winners and losers in this ASEAN-Japan deal? And why is it at this point in time that we’ll be signing the agreement when we have a JPEPA to think and worry about,” Tañada said.

“We just learned that the ASEAN-Japan agreements will be implemented ahead of JPEPA and that the contentious issues on transboundary movement of toxic waste which was initially included in JPEPA might be carried out in the ASEAN-Japan trade deal.

We’re afraid that the ASEAN-Japan will overwrite the country’s amendments and conditionalities in JPEPA.”
“In the spirit of transparency, we urge DTI to shed some light to the ASEAN-Japan economic agreement by disclosing it before signing any agreement in Singapore,” Tañada added.

The ASEAN-Japan agreement covers trade in goods, services, investments, rules of origin, dispute settlement mechanism, sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards, technical barriers to trade, and economic cooperation. Japan also wishes to incorporate intellectual property rights in the agreement.

Here’s another take on the JPEPA debate from Malaya columnist Nestor Mata:

the Senate should not ratify the economic partnership treaty with Japan. And since it can not be amended any more, perhaps Malacañang should renegotiate for an entirely new one minus the lopsided terms in the patently unconstitutional JPEPA.

Here’s also Mr. Mata’s observation against JPEPA that we, at FairTrade, cannot help but agree:

because of their failure [pro-JPEPA panel] they resorted to paid ads in newspapers, radio and television networks propagating their mantras that JPEPA would boost this country’s competitiveness and spur its economic growth.

We reiterate our stance: there is no other way but to renegotiate JPEPA because in the past six Senate hearings the government negotiators were not able to justify the merits of agreement.

Click here to read Mr. Mata’s full column on JPEPA.

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Wigberto Tañada, Lead Convenor

I would like to thank the Scalabrini  Migration Center and the other organizers of this conference for inviting me to this important forum.  I would like to congratulate Dr. Manolo Abella, a kababayan from Quezon, for his enlightening and provocative piece on migration and development.

The debate on the migration-development nexus is an old one in the Philippines.   Four decades ago, under martial law, Marcos justified the labor migration policy, focused then in the deployment of overseas contract workers (OCWs) in the Middle East, as a stop-gap temporary measure.  The argument then — deploy the OCWs to ease the unemployment problem  while the new economic doctrine propounded our political and economic leaders had not yet delivered the promised full employment.  What was this doctrine?  The labor-intensive export-oriented or LIEO program, which gave birth to the garments, electronics assembly and various EPZ-based enterprises.  The LIEO program was also used to justify the massive borrowings from the IMF-WB.

By the l980s, the debt crisis exploded and the economy collapsed.  The LIEO failed to take off and the outward movement of Filipino OCWs intensified.  This time the destination countries in Asia had multiplied, with the addition of Japan and the Asian NICs.  This time, our economic technocrats deepened the LIEO and baptized it as the structural adjustment program (SAP) backed up by the IMF-WB’s structural adjustment loans.  This time the SAP slogans were even shriller – open the economy through the all out-liberalization of the trade regime, all-out liberalization of the investment regime, all-out deregulation of agriculture, and all-out privatization of government assets and corporations competing with the private sector.

By the mid-1990s, the Philippines was second only to Singapore in economic openness in Asia.  And yet, it still registered one of the highest unemployment and underemployment rates in the region.   Yes, I agree with Manolo Abella — the high population growth rate was and still is a major explanatory factor to the unemployment problem.

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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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