Last September 9, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi signed the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA in Helsinki, Finland during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Europe meeting.
According to Manila Standard Today:
“The JPEPA provides that almost 95 percent of Philippine exports to Japan will be slapped zero duties. It binds both parties to eliminate the tariffs on almost all industrial goods within 10 years from the date of entry into force. It ensures access to the Japanese market of Filipino service providers. It will pave the way for the deployment of Filipino nurses and caregivers to Japan.”
But environmentalists believe JPEPA will be used to transport toxic or hazardous wastes from Japan to the Philippines.
While the Philippine government has already denied reports that it will allow toxic materials to enter Philippine soil, Blurry Rain thinks the government must address the following issues:
1. The emergency action provisions (safeguard measures) in JPEPA provide less protection than that provided for by Philippine laws and the World Trade Organization (and note that the domestic cement, steel, and ceramic industries have sought or been seeking safeguard measures from imports),
2. The Rule of Origin provisions allow the use of three methodologies that could create a bureaucratic quandary resulting in more transhipment and technical smuggling concerns,
3. The inclusion of the ‘Singapore issues’ in JPEPA, which we rejected in the WTO, thus putting in question the consistency of our trade policy.
Gerry Albert Corpuz Presents accuses the government of duplicity. He said JPEPA “will further empower Japan to flood the local market with surplus fish products contaminated with Mercury and other toxic materials dangerous to public health.”
Believing JPEPA is a “super disaster in the making” leaders of a fisherfolk alliance will petition the National Diet of Japan to reject the pact.
The group said JPEPA will allow Japanese transnational fishing companies to fish in Philippine waters which are known to be rich in yellowfin tuna and skip jack tuna “deposits”.
“The Japanese monopolies in tuna industry know that 55 percent of the country's yellowfin tuna and skipjack are found in the waters of Mindanao. They can send their 8,000-ton fishing fleets there to harvest our tuna under the banner of JPEPA. This is the implication of this one-sided agreement which will hurt the small fishermen.”
Kalikasan Peoples’ Network for the Environment discusses how the Philippine's supposed gains in the Japanese labor market are “illusory and minimal at the best”.
The Filipino Mind thinks JPEPA will facilitate the 3rd invasion of Japan in the Philippines. The blog also links to a comprehensive analysis of the agreement.
Mga Diskurso ni Doy links to the statement of the Center for Migrant Advocacy. The blog of Fair trade Alliance gives regular news updates on the JPEPA. Diego K. Guerrero points to an online petition for the scrapping of the agreement.
Youth green warriors held a protest in front of the Japanese embassy decrying “waste colonialism.”