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November 6, 2007

Chamber asks Senate to ratify JPEPA

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) got a boost Sunday when the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry asked the Senate to ratify it.

The chamber, which has 98 chapters and 30,000 members nationwide, passed a resolution at the conclusion of the 33rd Philippine Business Conference held in Manila last week asking the Senate to approve the pact.

In a statement released Sunday, chamber Chairman Donald Dee said, “With the overwhelming support of businessmen from all over the country for the economic treaty, we hope the senators would take into account their views when they vote on the ratification when they reconvene next month.” Dee is also the country’s special envoy on trade negotiation.

For his part, Sen. Richard Gordon also made public his support for the JPEPA as he underscored the prospect in investments and opportunities that the treaty will provide for the country.

Gordon cited the importance of a bilateral agreement in helping the country move forward toward attaining progress and growth.

But Gordon also called for some amendments in the treaty so that it will serve the best interests of the Filipino people.

Earlier, during the Kapihan sa Senado, Sen. Edgardo Angara also voiced his support for the JPEPA, saying that what is important is for us to approve the treaty now and discuss about possible refinements later.

Legal experts from the government have assured the public that there is nothing in the treaty that would violate provisions of the Constitution and existing Philippine laws.

They said the treaty also does not prevent the Congress from exercising its plenary legislative power to pass laws that would run counter to any provisions of the JPEPA.

Members of the Philippines Senate are expected to take a vote when it reconvenes next month. An affirmative vote by 16 senators is needed for the treaty to be enforced.

Practically every business organization with head offices in Metro Manila have concluded that the country would stand to lose the golden opportunity for growth if the Senate rejects the treaty.

They projected that with similar treaties already forged between Japan and the country’s main competitors in Southeast Asia, a rejection would penalize Philippine exports to Japan because they would be slapped with higher import duties unlike similar goods from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand that will enjoy zero or near-zero import duties.

The chamber of commerce, along with the major business groups in the country, had signed a joint resolution asking the Senate to ratify the agreement.

Aside from Dee, those who signed the joint resolution were Samie Lim, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation; the lawyer Miguel B. Varela, chairman of Employers Confederation of the Philippines; Ambassador Albert F. del Rosario, president of Management Association of the Philippines; Ambassador Francis Chua, president emeritus of Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Foundation; Alberto A. Lim, executive director of the Makati Business Club; Jesus Arranza, president of the Federation of Philippine Industries; and Elizabeth H. Lee, president of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc.

Among the sectoral groups that have endorsed the JPEPA were the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, Liga ng mga Barangay, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Port Users Confederation, Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines, Philippine Food Producers and Exporters Association, Philippine Mango Exporters Foundation and Philippine Okra Producers and Exporters.

Courtesy Manilatimes 

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