The ninth (9th) meeting of the Sub-Committee on the Improvement of Business Environment (IBE) under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) was held on 23 January 2015 in Manila. Ambassador of Japan, H.E. Kazuhide Ishikawa and Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Hon. Adrian S. Cristobal Jr., co-chaired the meeting.

Representatives from various Philippine government agencies, Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) were likewise present during the meeting. The private sector was represented by Mr. Yoshio Amano, President, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. for the Japanese side and Mr. Jake Ogana, Program Officer of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) for the Philippine side.

JPEPA, which entered into force in December 2008, is an important framework for enhancing economic ties between the two countries. Both sides noted that recent trade and investment figures are very encouraging and that JPEPA has sustained increased Japanese investments to the Philippines.

It was also noted that the exceptional Philippine human resource pool has helped the overseas expansion of Japanese companies. It is expected that these positive developments will be further promoted by frequent bilateral summit meetings, Japan’s on-going cooperation in Typhoon Yolanda relief and rehabilitation, support for peace and development in Mindanao as well as other Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects.

During the meeting, both sides of the panel noted encouraging progress in some agenda topics and issues such as the Import Clearance Certificate (ICC), the auto industry incentives, the retroactively imposed VAT refund procedures, the power supply situation for 2015, and the current state of the Manila ports. A review of items discussed during the previous meeting was likewise undertaken such as the harmonization of national tax incentives and local taxes, application procedures of reduced tax rates under the bilateral tax treaty, taxes on foreign maritime transport services, additional surcharges introduced by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), promotion measures for utilization of the Batangas and Subic ports and deregulation to establish the Philippines a Human Resource Development (HRD) hub.

The Sub-Committee on Improvement of Business Environment, a regular semi-annual dialogue, is an important forum for public and private sectors of both countries to discuss specific issues to ensure a transparent, predictable and consistent Philippine business environment.

Both sides agreed to continue efforts in reducing outstanding issues before the next meeting through continuous dialogues with business communities. These dialogues are important in attracting more Japanese investments into the Philippines.

Results of the meeting will be reported to DTI Secretary, Hon. Gregory L. Domingo in an appropriate timing by both sides. The next meeting of the Sub-Committee would be held later in this year. (END)