Monday, January 31, 2011

Japan happy with Jpepa, gives PH P21-B loan

Japan is pleased with the economic fruits of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) and wants to further the cooperation between the two countries toward full implementation, the Japanese ambassador to Manila said Friday.

“We’re very happy to see very good, positive results since the entry into force of the Jpepa,” said Ambassador Makoto Katsura in a briefing at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

He cited the growth of Philippine exports to Japan, particularly raw goods, as well as a rise in Japanese foreign direct investments (FDI) in the Philippines.

“For example, your agricultural products such as bananas or coconuts enter Japan more easily because in Japan (we impose) lower tax (on) your agricultural products,” he said.

In the meantime, Japan has extended to the Philippines a P21.4-billion loan for the repair and maintenance of roads in several parts of the country, its first such development project in the Aquino administration.

Katsura signed and exchanged notes on Friday with Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo formally granting the Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The 40.8-billion-yen loan for the “Road Upgrading and Preservation Project” was coursed through the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Under ODA terms, an annual interest rate of 1.4 percent would be charged over a 25-year repayment period, with a seven-year grace period and “very concessional terms and interest among various funding sources.”

Katsura said banana imports increased by 34 percent and coconut by 36 percent.

“This is a tangible result of the entry into force of Jpepa,” he added.

The Jpepa was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2008.

The envoy also noted that the Japanese FDI “represented 58 percent of all FDIs you received from the world in 2010.”

“Maybe Japanese investors were waiting for the entry into force of Jpepa so we’re very happy to see these very strong, powerful, positive developments after the entry in force of the Jpepa,” Katsura said.

He said further cooperation between the two countries was important.

“I think your government will start or has started research or study, and of course, in Japanese, we have somebody here. And some time this year, we can start talking to each other on these Jpepa issues,” he said.

The road repair project was first pledged at a meeting between President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan at a regional leaders’ summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on October 29 last year.

Japan has been the top ODA donor to the Philippines for years.

“This project reaffirms the government of Japan’s continued commitment extending cooperation in achieving sustainable growth in the Philippines and improving the living environment of the Filipino people, which will further foster a strategic partnership between the two countries toward the future,” the Japan Embassy said in a statement.

Some of Japan’s contributions to the Philippines’ road network are the 2,100-km Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway from Aparri to Davao and the 94-km Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.


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