Independent think-tank IBON Foundation reacted to Senator Mar Roxas’s statement that he would advocate for the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

Sen. Roxas said yesterday although there was not much gain inherent in the free-trade pact, “the loss is definitely calculable”. But IBON research head Sonny Africa said that the loss to the local economy of JPEPA goes beyond what can immediately be computed in monetary terms to affect the country’s future economic development.

Even as IBON estimates annual revenue losses at P10.6 billion because of tariff removals under JPEPA, Africa said that the bigger loss from the free trade pact is ultimately its effect on the country’s economic sovereignty and its right to impose policies to protect its industries and promote its long-term economic development.

For example, the JPEPA has investment provisions that require the Philippine government to place Japanese investors on equal footing with their local counterparts while preventing the country from imposing policies to favor Filipino entrepreneurs and enterprises. It also prohibits the government from imposing such development measures as requiring Japanese investors to hire a given level of Filipino nationals, transfer technologies or production processes to local companies, or achieve a certain level of local content in products it manufactures or subcontracts in the Philippines .

The effect of these provisions can not be readily computed monetarily, but the loss to the domestic economy is very real and concrete, Africa said, in terms of lost livelihoods and local firms closed. Just as big a loss will be the continued and chronic backwardness of the Philippines ‘ agricultural and industrial sectors, which would deny tens of millions of Filipinos decent work and force them to risk their lives abroad as overseas workers. “These losses are inherent in the JPEPA,” he said.

Africa said that senators considering ratification of the controversial pact should ultimately look not just at the immediate losses the JPEPA will bring but also its future legacy: the destruction of the people’s welfare and any hope of the country’s future development


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