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Fishy issues in Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) The Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is up for ratification by the Philippine Senate. However, there are socio-environmental and equity issues on fisheries trade and investments that demand answers or solutions from policymakers of both countries. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Fishy issues in Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) Jaime Escober, Jr., Tambuyog Development Center 31 May 2007 The Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is up for ratification by the Philippine senate this year. However, there are socio-environmental and equity issues on fisheries trade and investments that demand answers or solutions from policymakers of both countries. The Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is a comprehensive economic agreement that puts the Philippines at a serious disadvantage. It poses several socio-environmental and equity issues that have grave implications on the well being and future of the Filipino people. Threat of overfishing and fisheries collapse While there is no fishery access agreement with Japan and the Philippines, Japanese commercial fishing may be allowed under JPEPA terms because in its definition of "Area" (Article 2) where investments and services may be undertaken includes the territorial waters of the country and its Exclusive Economic Zone. It should also be noted that even without JPEPA, foreign investment is already allowed in commercial deep-sea fishing under the Philippine Foreign Investments Act of 1991, provided that foreign participation does not exceed 40 percent. As in previous years, investment priorities aquaculture products, priority products for the fisheries sector is again listed in the 2007 list of of the Philippine government. Alongside shrimp and other tuna�a product of commercial fishing�tops the list of exports.

This is an incentive that, coupled with JPEPA, can lead to increasing commercial fishing activities in the coming years. This development will have adverse impacts on the sustainability of local marine resources that, according to experts, have reached their maximum sustainable yield back in the 1990s and are now increasingly overfished. The threat of eventual collapse of local fisheries is serious given the persistence of an open-access regime in the country. In aquaculture, Japan has been a leading export destination of local shrimp products since the late 1980s. But the socio-environmental costs of intensive shrimp farming in the country have not been properly addressed up to the present. JPEPA says nothing about addressing such costs.

It is interesting to see if JPEPA would spur Japanese investments in local shrimp farming (and in other aquaculture products), thus helping the local shrimp industry to recover after almost 10 years now of low productivity and diseases. But again, the downside would be the threat that the massive socio-environmental costs in the 1980s and 1990s would be repeated. Unfair JPEPA provisions: national treatment, non-transfer of technology Certain JPEPA provisions are unfair. For instance, national treatment applies to Japanese goods, investments and services (Articles 17, 73 and 89) which means that they should be given the same and equal treatment as that received by their Filipino counterparts in the country. This treatment runs counter to current restrictions on foreign equity or ownership of enterprises under the 1987 Constitution. Without this limit to foreign capital, local commercial fishers and aquaculture operators may be put at a serious disadvantage later on, especially because they do not have the advantage in terms of technology and neither are they subsidized like their Japanese counterparts. Japanese fisheries subsidies amount to more than US$ 2 billion yearly, the largest in the world. Besides, there are other disadvantageous terms in the agreement. Japanese investors are not required to do the following: technology transfer, hiring of locals or local sourcing of raw materials (Article 93). The same article says no restrictions may be imposed in the sale of goods and services coming from Japanese investments. Philippine negotiators have argued that we do not have any defensive interests in agriculture and fisheries. But the above JPEPA provisions prove otherwise; they pose a threat to both local capital and the sustainability of resources. Protective barriers against local fishery products Moreover, Japan remains protective of many fishery products that are caught by municipal fishers. Products like sardines, mackerel, anchovies, cuttlefish and seaweed are excluded in the JPEPA schedule of tariff reductions for Japan. In excluding these products from any commitments to tariff elimination, Japan has the option not to reduce and even increase the tariffs on these products, depending on its interests. Why did Filipino negotiators fail to have these products included in the Japanese schedule of tariff reduction if in fact what we have is offensive interest in fisheries vis-�-vis Japan? Even before JPEPA was concluded last year, the Japanese tariff for local yellow-fin tuna was already low at 3.5 percent; and the tariff for frozen shrimp was already zero percent. What our negotiators should have worked on was to get more market access for other local fishery products in Japan; which they had failed to do. Trade in endangered species There is a need to further study the implication of the inclusion of manatee, dugongs, whales and dolphins in both the Philippine and Japanese schedules of tariff elimination of products. In fact, the Philippines has agreed to immediate elimination of tariffs for these marine mammals upon entry into force of the agreement. These species may not be traded by the Philippines and Japan which are both signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

(CITES). Japan, however, continues to fish commercially for certain endangered whale species (e.g. minke and Bryde whales) and to engage in annual hunts for dolphins and porpoises-saying that whaling and dolphin hunts (justified as a means to control dolphin populations) are part of Japanese culture. The Philippine inclusion of these endangered species in its tariff elimination schedule cannot be simply dismissed as a technical matter. It implies that the country also regards these species as tradable, despite the prohibition under CITES and the Philippine Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (Republic Act 9147). Related: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Comments 31 May 2007 by ggg NO GATS FRIENDS: JPEPA????????????????? ?�???????????(JPEPA)?? 2006 ? 11 ? 29 ? ?????????????????????????????????? ??????(EPA)??????????? further info on FTAs: � 02 Jun 2007 by Jim Santos The provisions in JPEPA that would allow Japanese fishing fleets to fish for tuna, sharks, whale, all other marine fishes and crustaceans without any restriction or quota on quantity of catch, plus national treatment (equal treatment as Filipino fishermen) for Japanese fishermen fishing in Philippine waters and EEZ�s (200 mile exclusive economic zone) can be found in Article 28 & 29, Chapter 3 of JPEPA. It also allow deployment of factory ships in Philippine waters. Certainly, on this aspect alone, it is a one-sided agreement. Who is in his right mind would think that Philippine domestic fishing fleets (mostly second hands) could access Japan�s territorial waters to fish for tuna or other marine fishes? � 07 Jun 2007 by Luis Articles 28 and 29 refer to rules on the origin of goods, such as fish originating from the ships of one party, which may be caught in territories outside of one party. But these provisions say nothing about fishing in the territorial waters of the other party.

� 04 Jul 2007 by Jim Santos JPEPA including its Annexes consists of more than 900 pages - a complex agreement with so many references on other international trade agreements (GATT, WTO, etc). To understand the implications of Art 28 & 29 on rules of origin, it shall be read in conjunction with Art. 2 mentioned in above write up. To elucidate, Art. 2 provides that JPEPA�s coverage extends to territorial waters including EEZs of the parties (Phils and Japan) and that both parties is given access to it. Under Art. 28 & 29, it provides that fishing vessels/factory ships of either party can extract/catch any marine and submarine resources found within the territory of the other party with the extracting/catching party given national treatment or "as if it is their own territory". With pronounced shortage of tuna in Japan due to overfishing which brought panic and increasing prices, is it not the best oppurtunity for Japanese commercial fishing to pre-position themselves in Phils and benefit from it (instead of other countries)?

source: Japan Indymedia -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Comment on this article Forum > Fishy issues in Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) 20 October 2007, by mylene the the Fishly issues in Japan Phil. Economic Partnership Agreement is simply an advantage only on the part of Japan. if the phil. will allow it, what will happen to our own fish supply? Surely the sustainability of the fish supply in the Phil. for our own consumption is greatly compromised.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ es&d=eKRwzRg5RME6&icp=1&.intl=us A. What is JPEPA?- A bilateral free trade agreement. - �Mega-treaty� covers a wide area, e.g. investments, government procurement, intellectual property, commodities, etc. - Likened to North America�s NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and other Free Trade Agreement (FTA)A. What is JPEPA?Objectives of JPEPA:Liberalize and facilitate trade in goods and services between the Parties; Establish a framework for further bilateral cooperation and improvement of business environment; Create effective procedures for the implementation and operation of this Agreement and for the resolution of disputes. Etc.A. What is JPEPA?Tools used to reach JPEPA objectives:

1. Tariff Elimination; 2. Eliminate non-tariff controls; 3. Preferential treatment; 4. Ease of entry of goods/services/investments- Paperless Trading - Certification of IndustriesA. What is JPEPA?How will it benefit the Philippines? - Access to Japanese labor market by Filipino workers- Preferred treatment over agricultural products- Projected gain by the Philippines �$9 billion A. What is JPEPA?How will it benefit Japan? - Ease of access/Preferential treatment of Japanese goods to Philippine market.A. What is JPEPA?What commodities are covered? - Corn, sugar, other agricultural products, incinerators, etc.- Including the following wastes:Ash and residue from the incineration of municipal waste;A. What is JPEPA?Waste pharmaceuticals; Municipal waste; Sewage sludge; Clinical waste; Lead, cadmium waste and scrap; Waste oils containing PCBs, PBTs, and PBB; Lead-acid batteries, etc.B. Concerns Over JPEPAJPEPA = Mushroom1. Grows well in the dark; 2. You need to throw BS/Untruths on it to grow;3. Grows outward to the immediate area around it.B. Concerns Over JPEPA1. Kept in the dark -2 years of negotiations without any civil society consultation.-Civil society members filed a case in Supreme Court Dec. 2005 to be given access to text of treaty. -Text only became available after treaty was signed by Phil and Japan in Helsinki, Finland in Sept. 9,2006.B. Concerns Over JPEPA2. Untruths used by Phil. government to sell JPEPA to the public:-�There are sufficient safeguards under Phil. Law and Basel Convention.�-�The provisions on toxic wastes do not mean anything.�-�Japan won�t send their toxic waste to us.�B. Concerns Over JPEPA2. Untruths used by government to sell JPEPA to the public (cont.):-�Based on WTO rules, all products that are subject to tariffs must face reduced duties, including �waste��Japan Phil.Di sposal Costs--Increase global toxic waste Increase global toxic waste generation.generation.--Widening gap between the Widening gap between the rich and and poor.OECD/EU OECD/EU countriescountriesand and the the Basel Basel BanBanIgnoringIgnoringSloveniaCyprusNorwayMexicoSlovak RepublicBelgiumHungaryLithuaniaMaltaNetherlandsLuxembourgLiechtensteinLatviaItalyI relandIcelandGreeceJapanGermanyUnited StatesUnited KingdomFranceUnderminingUnderminingTurkeyFinlandSouth KoreaSwitzerlandEstoniaNe w ZealandSwedenDenmarkCanadaSpainCzech RepublicAustraliaPortugalAustriaRespectingRespectingPolandRatified & Implementing Ratified & Implementing Japanese waste keeps on coming�.Japan e-waste found in Taizhou, China 2004 Japanese scrap computers photographed by BAN in Lagos, Nigeria, Africa in October 2005. Significant quantities of hazardous electronic waste from Japan are exported all over the world without testing to assure whether material is waste or not. In Lagos, 75% of this material is simply dumped and burned in informal wayside dumps . Copyright � Basel Action Network. 2005.1. Conflict with Basel Convention- Re-defining Wastes vs Goods - Elimination of Controls - Facilitating Transfer of Pollution from Japan to Poorer Countries, such as Philippines2. Precedent Setting

3. Undermine other Multilateral Env. AgreementsB. Concerns Over JPEPASpreading to other countriesSingapore, Oct. 31, 2002 Malaysia, Dec. 15, 2005 Thailand � Under Negotiation Indonesia � Under Negotiation India � Proposal/Negotiation China � Proposal/NegotiationBrunei � Under NegotiationB. Concerns Over JPEPAConflict with other MEAs:Stockholm/POPs � PCBs, DDT, etc. Montreal Protocol � CFCs, brominated chemicals CITES � ivory, tortoise shell, whalebone, etc.B. Concerns Over JPEPA1. Philippines must reject JPEPA. 2. Japan, Philippines, and other Asian nations must immediately ratify the Basel Ban Amendment3. Full impartial multi-stakeholder inquiry to conducted to determine how toxic waste provisions got into JPEPA.4. Regional coordinated action by civil society is needed!C. Recommendations1988Farmer - Sunday Nana Income - $100/month Lessee � Italian Firm Goods - Fertilizer Fertilizer � Toxic Waste Environmental Scandal Koko Beach, Nigeria2006Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo9.1 Billion Pesos -TradeJunichiro Koizumi Various Commodities Goods = Wastes Environment, economic, labor, human rights scandal?JPEPAWhy should Asia bear the toxic burden Why should Asia bear the toxic burden of Japan?of Japan?www.ban.orgbanasel ction etwork ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++++++++ l 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Arroyo: RP to stay �cautious, vigilant� amid economic boom January 29, 2008 08:27:00

Maila Ager MANILA, Philippines � (UPDATE) Despite the country's economic progress, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said her government would remain "cautious" and "vigilant" amid the current international economic uncertainty. "It's clear that everyone who knows our country agrees that we are in a better position today than ever to withstand and be resilient when confronted with international economic uncertainty," Arroyo said in her speech on Tuesday after arriving from Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. But while she expressed confidence and optimism about the long-term progress of the Philippine economy, the President said, "We're also cautious about the current state of the world economy." "As such, we assured everyone we met abroad and we say to our people here at home, we are not complacent. We remain vigilant in pursuing economic reforms and maintaining our fiscal discipline just as we're working hard at home to mitigate the impact of any economic slowdown on our people," she said. In her visit to the UAE, Arroyo announced certain measures such as a new deposit instrument of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines), that would ease the impact of fluctuations in currency rates on the remittances of overseas Filipino workers. She also cited the newly launched Landbank card for OFWs that would reduce their expenses in remittances to the Philippines. As a result of her UAE visit, Arroyo said there would also be new investments coming to the Philippines starting this year. Among the benefits of her trip to Europe, where she attended the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, and in UAE are new trade and investment opportunities, strengthened relations with multilateral agencies and donor agencies who support the country�s development program, better working conditions for OFWs, and increased levels of cooperation with countries around the world. "It's clear that the world is taking notice of the success our country has achieved in turning our economy around and in generating some of the highest economic growth levels in a generation," she said. "It's because of that international recognition that a number of current foreign investors told us of their plan to expand their operations in the Philippines and new investors confirmed their intentions to establish operations here," she said. Copyright 2008 and content partners. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

~~~~~~~~~Arroyo sees GDP growth continuing at around 7% January 25, 2008 18:05:00 Joel Guinto DAVOS, Switzerland (via PLDT) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the

economy will continue to grow "in the neighborhood of 7.0 percent," and the budget could be balanced at the end of 2007. "[Growth] will be in the neighborhood of 7.0 percent because for the three quarters, we were at 7.1 percent, and that is way beyond the projections of the international financial institutions," she said in an interview on "Davos Today," which was aired Friday on local television. The President, who is in this ski resort town for the World Economic Forum (WEF), did not specify if her growth projection was for the fourth quarter, or the full year of 2007. When asked about the deficit problem, Arroyo said that with the tax reforms she initiated, her economic managers have recommended that the target to balance the budget be moved to 2008 from 2010. "Well, my economic managers might surprise even themselves, that we might have a balanced budget in 2007. But in any case, the market wasn't expecting that, so if it comes, then it's going to be a windfall," she said. Arroyo said fears of a looming recession in the United States, which have caused world markets to tumble, have made this year's WEF meeting more significant, "more important." "With the events in the world happening this week, all the more, Davos became important because of the uncertainties that have unfolded this past week. It is all the more important for the world leaders in business and government to get together and collaborate more closely," she said. She also expressed confidence that the Philippine economy will withstand the slowdown in the US. "The good news is that the Philippines, because of our reforms, has achieved a level of maturity and stability that can help us withstand, that makes us more resilient than at any point in time in our history, to be able to withstand external shock," she said. Copyright 2008 and content partners. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ~~~~~~~~~~Worried Arroyo calls Palace to ask how RP stocks faring January 24, 2008 03:17:00 Michael Lim Ubac Philippine Daily Inquirer MANILA, Philippines -- With global financial markets roiled by fears of the US economy slipping into a recession, a worried President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Wednesday phoned Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita from Switzerland to ask about how the local bourse was faring. The President, who is attending the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the ski resort of Davos, which started Wednesday, made the call even after Malaca�ang said the country �will weather any storm.� Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the country would likely withstand the adverse effect of a US slowdown largely because of its improving economic fundamentals.

Bunye noted that from a high of 28 percent seven years ago, Philippine exports to the United States dropped to less than 20 percent of total export income as exporters had diversified their markets. �We remain vigilant and we know that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is closely watching developments on the monetary front and that gives us great comfort that we can and will weather any storm,� he said. Ms Arroyo called up Ermita in the middle of his press conference in Malaca�ang, which was telecast live by government TV and radio stations, to ask about the stock market and other economic indicators. Arroyo focused The executive secretary then excused himself, disappeared briefly then went back to the Palace media briefing room and resumed his weekly press conference. �You can see how focused the President is. She is (in a faraway land), yet she called up to ask about us,� Ermita said. �How are you? It�s cold here. What is the effect of the announcement in media about the American drop in the stock market?� Ms Arroyo was quoted by Ermita as saying. He said he told Ms Arroyo that it was the burning issue of the day. Specific figures Ms Arroyo then asked Ermita to get �specific figures from� the Department of Finance and the National Economic and Development Authority. Ermita said Ms Arroyo�s order was for Cabinet officials �to focus our attention� on all the projects in the pipeline. �If other countries such as the European Union could very well be affected by this economic slowdown, you see how it is for a developing country such as the Philippines,� he said. Ermita said the government would focus its attention on implementing infrastructure projects and hastening their completion so people could benefit from them. �That will help cushion the impact of this slowdown of the economy of the United States,� he said. When Ms Arroyo and her party left Tuesday for a seven-day trip to Switzerland and the Middle East, she ordered the Cabinet to speed up the implementation of all projects in the pipeline to mitigate the adverse impact of a weakening US economy on the Philippines. 2 external threats At the Cabinet meeting she attended before leaving for Davos, Ms Arroyo acknowledged that rising oil prices and the weakening US economy were two external threats to the country�s economy. Ermita said the Arroyo administration was seeking to improve relations with other countries �so the Philippines does not become too dependent on one country.

As Ms Arroyo is away, Ermita is tasked with presiding over an emergency meeting of the administration�s economic managers to discuss whether to adjust growth targets and the goal to achieve a balanced budget this year. Ermita said Malaca�ang was in the process of ascertaining the ill effects of the US economic slowdown. Copyright 2008 and content partners. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Arroyo: Our economy is booming January 24, 2008 02:45:00 TJ Burgonio Joel Guinto Philippine Daily Inquirer Agence France-Presse ZURICH, SWITZERLAND -- With its strong �economic fundamentals,� the Philippines would weather a world financial crunch, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Wednesday. The President aired this positive outlook in a speech before the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) here even as she made a pitch that the country remained a favorable investment destination amid the global uncertainties. �Our economy is booming,� she told leaders of the SACC at the Savoy Hotel. �But like so many places in rich and poor nations alike, we must fight to close the gap in income inequality.� SACC is a nonprofit organization established to promote economic and business relations between Switzerland, Southeast Asia and Korea based on the principle of reciprocal benefit. Ms Arroyo made the speech on the same day that the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos opened. As the 38th World Economic Forum opened, the global economy was faced with huge slides in stock markets, slowing growth, the subprime crisis and increasing oil, food and other commodity prices. �I don�t know whether there will be a recession in the United States, but I do know that one year ago, at this time, things were very rosy,� Rahul Bajaj, chair of Indian industrial group Bajaj Auto told Agence France Presse in Davos. Credits BSP Ms Arroyo, who led an 86-member delegation and who is set to attend the forum on Friday, credited the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for making the economy �more resilient to external volatility.� �In the midst of world uncertainties, it helps that we have one of the best and most awarded central banks in the world, which has helped the Philippines achieve a stable macroeconomic environment that is making us much more resilient to external volatility,� she said. Not dependent on US market She said that a looming recession in the United States will not derail the growth

of the Philippine economy. She said: �We are vigilant that our efforts should not be derailed by the subprime crisis and the subsequent credit crunch in the US.� Ms Arroyo said the government was counting on Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. and his team to continue to �ensure macroeconomic fundamentals� to support the country�s robust economic growth at a time of continuous global economic volatility. She later said in a forum that the Philippines was a �free enterprise economy� and that government would not meddle with the central bank in determining the foreign exchange rate. Finance Secretary Margarito Teves earlier said that the Philippines could withstand the adverse effects of a US economic slowdown or recession because of its �improving economic fundamentals.� In an interview with reporters, Trade Secretary Peter Favila said the country should not worry about the slowdown of the US economy. �Even in the Asia-Pacific region, many of the economies are not necessarily dependent on the US market. Our export market to the US has gone down, but our economy is growing. So by and large, it�s a globalized economy,� Favila told reporters. �You�re no longer indexed to just one market economy,� he said. Investment haven In her speech, Ms Arroyo said the Philippines was �on the path to permanent economic growth and stability,� and hence, remains a favorable investment haven. �We have created seven million jobs in seven years. We have achieved 28 consecutive quarters of economic growth even when many of our neighbors experienced negative growth or even recession at some time or another of the last seven years,� Ms Arroyo said. �In fact our economy, which rose 7.1 percent in the first three quarters of 2007, is experiencing its fastest growth in more than one decade,� she said. Faster growth Ms Arroyo noted that the Philippines grew �faster� than the rest of Southeast Asia, despite oil price volatility and a global economic slowdown. �Our international reserves are also at record levels. We have a balance of payment surplus, a low inflation rate and low interest rates,� she said. �Business and investor confidence is on the rise. The peso is one of the world�s best performing currencies, and our stock market has reached historic heights. Our budget is under control, and we are raising unprecedented amounts of revenue,� she said. Ms Arroyo said that the strong peso had helped mitigate the impact of the escalating prices of crude oil, averting an increase in public transport fare. �We�ve not had an increase in public transportation fare. That would have started a spiral of inflation � Our strong peso makes up for the high price of oil in the world market,� she later said in an open forum.

Hedge facilities for OFWs Ms Arroyo announced that she was setting up �hedge facilities� for overseas Filipino workers in Dubai to keep them insulated from an unstable peso-dollar exchange rate. She said she has ordered the labor department to review new contracts of OFWs to include payment in the currency of higher value. �I�ve instructed the Department of Labor and Employment to review the contracts between foreign employers and Filipino workers so that contracts will now stipulate that they will be paid in pesos or dollars, whichever is stronger,� she said. Arroyo said the dollars remitted by the OFWs not only prop up the economy, but also help build a new labor base by sending their children to school. "We value the contribution of our OFWs for creating our manpower pool," she said. "But I do dream of and work for the day when we can keep our best and brightest at home, and overseas work is just another career option and not the only choice left for a hard-working Filipino," she said. Ms Arroyo said that in the face of the volatility in world markets, the Philippines, thanks to its sound economic fundamentals, was offering itself as a �strategic location� for business opportunities. �We have met the challenge of economic and fiscal reform,� she said. Highly trained manpower She said that investment in the Philippines had grown more than five-fold from 2003 to 2007, thanks to the billion-dollar investments by major international companies, including Texas Instruments. Ms Arroyo added that the country ranked among the most attractive off-shoring destinations in the world because of �cost-competitiveness� and highly-trained, English-speaking IT-adept manpower. �Our outsourcing sector has the potential to grow 40 percent per year from 2007 until 2010,� she said. With a report from Agence France-Presse Copyright 2008 and content partners. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Philippines moves down in global IT ranking--WEF March 28, 2006 18:07:00 Agence France-Presse (UPDATE) THE PHILIPPINES has moved down in a 2005 World Economic Forum (WEF) report that ranks countries in terms of their information technology infrastructure and policies. From a ranking of 67 in the 2004 edition of the report, the Philippines now ranks 70. In 2003, the Philippines ranked 69.

The ranking released by the WEF on Tuesday also said that the United States has taken over from Singapore as the top country for the development of information and communications technology. The Global Information Technology report 2005 praised the "impressive performance" of the technical infrastructure in the United States, as well as the business environment. It also highlighted US openness to technological innovation, helped by the higher education system and the ready availability of venture capital. Singapore secured second place in the "Networked Readiness Index" thanks to its regulatory environment, and "world class" education and training. The index of 115 economies is based on a survey of business executives. "Information and communication technologies presently represent one of the most important drivers in boosting efficiency and productivity in today's fast changing global economy," Augusto Lopez-Claros, co-editor of the report. Asian countries generally faltered in the table. Hong Kong, Australia and Japan ranked between 11th and 16th after falling several places. China fell nine places to 50th position, losing touch with India (40th). By contrast, South Korea (14th) gained ten places. Leading Asian nation Taiwan (seventh) -- "an ICT powerhouse in the last three decades," according to the report -- gained eight places over 2004 thanks to "intelligent" public policies and public-private partnerships in the sector. Nordic countries again dominated the top of the ranking, with Denmark, Iceland and Finland in third to fifth places, and Sweden ranked number eight. The report said the reasons for the Nordic technological strength mirrored those behind their strong performance in overall economic competitiveness rankings: "highly-developed" education, a strong culture of innovation and government transparency that promoted a "friendly climate" for new business ventures. "The Nordic countries have been for many years ICT powerhouses, managing to harness the latest technologies to enhance the efficiency of their economies and to boost living standards," Lopez-Claros said. Neighboring Estonia led eastern European countries in 23rd position thanks to its "excellent political and regulatory framework." Russia (72nd) fell 10 places in the ranking, reflecting concern about a deteriorating institutional environment, notably on property rights and the independence of the judicial system, the WEF said. With a report from Agence France-Presse in Geneva Copyright 2008 and content partners. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Stocks tumble, peso slides to 16-month low By Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson, Doris Dumlao

Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 01:49:00 09/17/2008 Most Read Other Most Read Stories x Business Stocks tumble, peso slides to 16-month low BSP gives assurance as 2 banks take hit from Lehman Oil in steepest two-day slide since 2004 Economists see further peso slide Wall St ends higher on hopes of AIG resolution P7-B port city being planned in Aurora RP braces for effects of AIG, Lehman troubles on economy Hurricane Ike topples several US oil platforms Oil prices dip below $92/barrel in Asia The news gets worse Banco de Oro sets P3.8B for Lehman exposure Peso falls to 16-month low of 47.295 to dollar Business Most Read RSS Close this The collapse of Lehman Brothers, one of Wall Street�s oldest investment banks, Tuesday sent Philippine stocks plummeting 4.5 percent to a new low in a year and a half. The peso also slid to a 16-month low at 47.20 to the dollar as the fragile health of iconic US financial giants heightened global investors� aversion to currencies, bonds and stocks from emerging markets like the Philippines. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) lost 114.44 points to end at 2421.72. �Generally, this is sentiment spilling over from the severity of the impact of Lehman�s bankruptcy on the US financial sector. The outlook still remains uncertain,� said Ron Rodrigo, head of research at DBP Daiwa Securities. Tuesday�s close was the lowest for the PSEi since July 23, 2008, when it finished at 2462.94. The market�s fall was also the biggest point decline since March 10, 2008, when it dropped 119.85. Total foreign selling on the stock market amounted to P1.73 billion, compared with total foreign buying of P747.83 million. Lehman�s collapse �has heightened risk aversion� among foreign investors in the Philippine stock market, said Paul Joseph Garcia, chief investment officer at ING Investment Management Philippines. �Since the subprime crisis started in August 2007, foreign funds have sold over $1 billion in the stock market. We think that�s around 70 percent of foreign funds that came in prior to the subprime crisis. So we feel that foreign selling pressure will continue and then fizzle to a more manageable degree.� Since Monday�s news of Lehman�s possible collapse, the PSEi has lost 224.4 points, or 8.4 percent. However, analysts said Philippine corporations should not be severely affected by the US subprime crisis. �Banks here are not overleveraged [dependent on debt] like US banks. In fact, banks here have too much cash. But [stock market] sentiment will definitely be affected,� April Tan, head of research at, said.

Emotions got the better of investors Tuesday as they sold heavily the stocks of banks that disclosed direct exposure to Lehman Brothers. The financial index showed the biggest loss at 8.41 percent, or 55.3 points, to 602.08. Banco De Oro Unibank Inc. was the market�s third-biggest loser as it slumped 15.38 percent or P6 to close at P33 a share. The peso tumbled to 47.30 to the dollar before closing at 47.20 as investors pulled money out of risky investments in emerging markets to seek safer havens, particularly cash and US Treasury securities. Banco de Oro Unibank chief strategist Jonathan Ravelas said the next key barrier to the dollar�s climb against the peso would be 48.00 to the greenback. The peso is at its weakest level since hitting 47.36 to the dollar on May 11 last year. It has depreciated 12.5 percent since the start of the year, making it among the worst-performing currencies in Asia this year. With editing by ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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