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Tokyo-Manila FTA sent to Philippine Senate for OK

Tokyo-Manila FTA sent to Philippine Senate for OK

MANILA (Kyodo) Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo submitted Friday for Senate ratification the free-trade agreement she signed in September with then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that would scrap tariffs on 94 percent of goods and services traded between the two countries by value and open up Japan's labor market to Philippine nurses and caregivers.

The bilateral trade accord will take effect 30 days after ratification by the Philippine Senate and the Diet.

"I have the honor to recommend the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement," Arroyo said in a letter, which outlines the pact's main points, to Senate President Manuel Villar.

Arroyo said the accord, which would be the first of its kind for the Philippines and the fourth for Japan, "envisages that almost 95 percent of Philippine exports to Japan will face zero duties beginning (from) day one."

Japan would establish low-tariff or no-tariff import quotas on various agricultural and food products, including bananas, pineapples, chicken and molasses, but not politically sensitive items like rice, dairy products or starch, in order to protect Japanese farmers.

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