THINK-TANK HITS TRADE SECRETARY FOR CONDITIONING PUBLIC ON JPEPA APPROVAL

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation criticizes Trade Secretary Peter Favila for seemingly conditioning the public that the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) will be approved before the month ends.

JPEPA, a bilateral trade deal that eliminates tariffs on Japanese industrial goods, faces strong opposition for a host of issues including estimated revenue losses for RP of P10.6 billion yearly due to tariff removals under JPEPA, according to IBON research head Sonny Africa.

The Senate will start deliberating the deal when it resumes its sessions on April 28. Does Secretary Favila believe that the JPEPA is so acceptable to the Senate that it will ratify it in two days?” Africa said, adding that after failing to consult the public, the secretary seems to be trying to influence the Senate through its statements.

He added that government should realize from its recent deals with China that the country is on a losing end with unequal bilateral agreements. JPEPA, for instance, prohibits the government from imposing positive measures like requiring Japanese investors to hire a given level of Filipino nationals, transferring technologies to local companies, or getting a certain level of local content in products it manufactures or subcontracts in the Philippines .

Africa also expressed disappointment that the country’s trade secretary persists in promoting JPEPA amid valid arguments raised against it which the government have failed to credibly address before the Senate committee hearings.

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