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Philippines wants economic deal with Japan

MANILA - Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo has expressed hope that an economic agreement with Japan will be signed this year in time with the 50th anniversary celebration of Philippines-Japan diplomatic ties.

At the joint news conference that formally launched the Philippines-Japan Friendship Year 2006, Romulo said the signing of Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) would further strengthen economic ties between the two countries.

The agreement will make a major transformation in the way the two countries do business with each other.

"We shall be economic partners as close and solid as never before," Romulo said.

The agreement aims at promoting a freer trans-border flow of goods, people, services and capital between the Philippines and Japan.

JPEPA also targets a comprehensive economic partnership in intellectual property, competition policy, improvement of business environment and bilateral cooperation in such fields as human resources development, information and communications technology and small and medium enterprises.

"Our hope is that, as we tap more and more the manifold complementary strengths of our two economies, we realize greater direct benefits for our peoples and thus pave the way for deeper people-to-people understanding and friendship," Romulo said.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Ryuichiro Yamazaki, meanwhile, noted the stronger relations between his country and the Philippines.

"Our bilateral relations have advanced in a manner that they are now closer than ever before," the ambassador said.

He cited the two countries "shared values of democracy, freedom and human rights" as one factor that fortifies their partnership.

"We are also neighbors sharing the same sea-lanes but we do not have any territorial or maritime disputes," Yamazaki added.

(Asia Pulse/PNA)

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