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ASEAN-Japan deal to expand services access, movement of persons, business visa issuance

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REUTERS

THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan signed an agreement to amend the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Agreement, which will expand visa access to Japan for Filipinos visiting for business or investment, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

“The Protocol incorporates provisions on Trade in Services, Movement of Natural Persons, and Investment into the AJCEP Agreement,” the DTI said.

“Filipinos can now be granted visas allowing for short-term to long-term business and investment-related visits to Japan,” it added.

Filipino professionals in the sciences, including engineering, economics, law, business management and accounting, taxation, or specialists in humanities can also be granted stays of up to five years.

Temporary stays will also be granted to accompanying spouses and children as “dependents” of any visa holder.

“The signing of the Protocol is expected to further bolster promotion of PH services exports, FDIs [foreign direct investments], as well as open opportunities for Filipino professionals in Japan,” the DTI said in a statement on Monday.




The agreement was signed on March 2 on the sidelines of the 7th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia, according to the DTI.

AJCEP is a free trade agreement between Japan and the 10 member-states of ASEAN which came into force in December 2008.

It contains commitments that eliminate and gradually reduce tariffs on products between ASEAN and Japan to encourage the growth of two-way exports and production-sharing arrangements.

AJCEP also includes an economic cooperation program to help parties maximize ASEAN-Japan partnership through technical assistance and capacity-building.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said: “This new development will ensure that Japan continues to be a strong anchor in regional trade. With other initiatives that ASEAN and Japan are engaged in — such as the renewed ASEAN-Japan 10-year Strategic Economic Cooperation Roadmap-Japan remains an important partner of ASEAN in its economic integration agenda,” Mr. Lopez was quoted as saying.

Japan is ASEAN’s fourth-largest trading partner with merchandise trade totalling $218 billion in 2017.

It is also ASEAN’s second-largest source of external FDI, which amounted to $13.2 billion during the same period. — Janina C. Lim