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Manila eyes 'strategic' relations with Japan

Publication Date : 20-03-2014

 

The Philippine government seeks to ratchet up its relations with Japan to a “more strategic level” during the ongoing review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the country’s only bilateral economic partnership.

Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said he had instructed the Philippine panel to the PJEPA review to look for ways to further expand the agreement or to increase the “give and take” provisions.

Such provisions, Domingo said, have been instrumental in increasing bilateral trade and investments between Japan and the Philippines.

“If you look at that agreement, it’s very advantageous to us because, in terms of trade and investment, the increases have been huge. Since that agreement was signed, there has been a 60- to 80-per cent increase in our trade with them,” Domingo said. “You could easily see the rise in investments too. They (Japan) are our No. 1 source of investments by far.”

The trade chief declined to cite specific areas or industries where the Philippines would seek increased concession. But he noted that the country would want to press for more concessions for the agricultural sector and the movement of natural persons.

Japan, he added, might want to lobby for more provisions for the export of their goods and services to the Philippines, particularly in the areas of banking, insurance, consultancy and IT sectors. Industrial goods, specifically the automotive and steel sectors, were reported to be included as well.

Since the signing of the PJEPA in 2006, and its ratification in 2008, the Philippines has seen an increase in trade and investments from Japan. Total trade with Japan reached $16.35 billion by  the end of 2012, with a trade balance of $3.41 billion in favor of the Philippines.

Top Philippine exports to Japan were ignition wiring sets, bananas, and digital monolithic integrated circuits.

The PJEPA was signed on Sept. 9, 2006 in Helsinki, Finland, between former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. It was then ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2008.

 

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