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Speaker seeks JPEPA review

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SPEAKER and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Tuesday called for a review of a 2006 free trade agreement with Japan, citing the need to expand the agricultural export opportunities.

The review of the trade agreement should look at eliminating or reducing tariffs imposed by Tokyo on Philippine agricultural exports such as bananas, he told members of Japan’s House of Councilors at the National Diet Building in Tokyo, his office said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We believe that a review of the JPEPA (Japan–Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement), especially after the recent trilateral agreements, would show support and solidarity… to foster a better and more conducive relationship between our countries,” Mr. Romualdez said in the statement.

Mr. Romualdez is looking to increase the market share of Philippine bananas in Japan after it declined to 78% from as high as 90% before the pandemic.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier this year pushed for a bigger market share of exported Philippine agricultural products in Japan.

It also called for the reduction of Japan’s tariff on Philippine bananas, which is at 8% and 18%, depending on the time of the year.

Hiroshi Moriyama, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, said he would consider the Speaker’s proposal, according to Mr. Romualdez’s statement. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

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