PH, Japan eye inclusion of e-commerce in trade agreement
Japan might include e-commerce under its free trade deal with the Philippines as both sides review the merits of the nearly decade-old agreement.
It has been nearly 10 years since the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA) took effect in December 2008, prompting Japan to look at factors that were not considered a decade ago.
According to Makoto Iyori, minister for economic affairs at the Japanese embassy in Manila, Japan might propose to include a chapter on e-commerce in the PJEPA, which is reviewed every five years.
“We can request a new sector. We have not agreed which new sector we would negotiate [for] but e-commerce is a possibility,” he said.
“We didn’t have e-commerce 10 years ago,” he added.
If both sides agree to include e-commerce in the deal, PJEPA will have a wider coverage, which is in tune with the prevailing trends of the recent years.
He said the next round of negotiations could be held in Japan, although other details still needed to be fleshed out.
Currently, the PJEPA covers trade in goods and services, investments, movement of natural persons, intellectual property, customs procedures, improvement of the business Environment, and government procurement, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Last year, the Department of Trade and Industry said it would review PJEPA to request its counterpart in Japan to lower the seasonal tariff on pineapples and bananas.
Seasonal tariffs are imposed on certain agricultural products, including bananas and pineapples. This means Japan slaps higher duties on such products during the months they are “in season” or are being produced there. Lower tariffs are imposed on lean months.
The trade department’s focus was more on increased access for agricultural products to Japan as the Philippines was already breaching the quotas set under the bilateral economic partnership.
The government also planned to seek to add other categories for the movement of natural persons between Japan and the Philippines as the existing agreement covered only nurses and caregivers. The target was to add teachers and engineers.
Since PJEPA was signed in 2006 by heads of the Philippine and Japanese governments, trade between both countries have substantially improved.
Japan is also among the Philippines’ biggest sources of foreign investments.
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