Philippines Urges Swift PJEPA Review to Bolster Market Access
In a bid to expedite the ongoing general review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA), the Philippines is intensifying efforts for a timely conclusion while also advocating for improved market access for key agricultural products. Trade Undersecretary Allan Gepty highlighted the nation’s focus on enhancing market access for bananas and reducing associated tariffs during negotiations with Japan. The timeline for the review remains contingent on the ambitions of both nations, with the Philippines emphasizing a clear and urgent direction for the conclusion.
One of the primary objectives in the general review is to secure better market access for Filipino bananas, a vital component of Japan’s food basket, constituting 22% of consumer preferences. The current tariff structure, with an 18% tariff on bananas imported between October 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024, poses challenges that the Philippines aims to address. Proximity advantages and compliance with Japanese food standards position the Philippines as a key supplier of low-cost bananas.
Amid the negotiations, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is collaborating with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to secure preferential tariff rates for Philippine bananas. The threat posed by increased shipments from Cambodia, Laos, Mexico, and Vietnam, which enjoy zero or preferential tariffs in Japan, underscores the urgency of addressing market access for Philippine bananas.
Japan, on its part, is emphasizing the need for lower tariffs on automotive parts and industrial goods as part of the PJEPA review. The bilateral free trade agreement, in force since 2008, encompasses various aspects, including trade in goods, services, investments, movement of natural persons, intellectual property, government procurement, competition, and the improvement of the business environment.
The negotiation process remains dynamic, with the timeline hinging on the shared ambitions of both countries. The Philippines is committed to its offensive interests and policy direction, seeking a prompt conclusion to the PJEPA review. As discussions unfold, the implications of market access improvements and tariff reductions will play a pivotal role in shaping trade relations between the two nations.
In navigating the complexities of international trade agreements, the Philippines remains steadfast in its pursuit of favorable terms that not only benefit key sectors like agriculture but also contribute to the overall economic cooperation and synergy between the Philippines and Japan.