RP excludes only rice and salt vs. 239 items for Japan
In her pitch to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) for the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), President Gloria Arroyo sought to assuage concerns over its environmental impact, which had reportedly been the reason the pact’s ratification was delayed.
But independent think-tank IBON Foundation argues that the main argument against ratifying the JPEPA is not only that it would turn the country into Japan ’s landfill, but that the pact is blatantly unfair against the Philippines .
IBON research head Sonny Africa pointed out the JPEPA’s inequality is starkly revealed in Annex 1, the section that lists products excluded from any immediate or future commitments to reduce tariffs. While Japan appears to exclude 239 items, including fish, seaweed, livestock, vegetables, fruits, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and leather, the Philippines excludes just two items: rice and salt.
This inequality becomes even more glaring if the actual conditions of the respective economies are considered. Agriculture is far more important to the Philippine economy than to Japan’s, and Philippine agriculture is much more backward– yet the JPEPA apparently still protects Japan ’s more than it does that of the Philippines , said Africa .
Aside from the JPEPA’s gross unfairness, the damage it would do to the Philippine economy should be more than enough justification for the Senate not to ratify the agreement.