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Perilous Waters Selected Papers on the Dangers of Privatizing Irrigation

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PW-Cover-smallIn an era where the market reigns supreme, evennaturally occurring and commonly held resourcesare privatized and turned into lucrative areas ofinvestment. Such is the attempt of World Bank,and other international financial institutions, onirrigation water. Instead of a public good that thegovernment must provide, the provision of waterfor agriculture is treated as a business venture thatshould accrue profit. Thus, according to such logic,public agencies in charge of irrigation service deliverymust not incur losses otherwise they are deemedinefficient; and the only way to cure such inefficiencyis to pass it on to private entities.However, this line of thinking has failed in not afew cases. In the Philippines alone, the takeover ofprivate enterprises in public utilities such as potablewater and social services such as health and educationdid not necessarily result in a better and moreefficient delivery of such services. In fact, it did thecontrary.

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The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA): At What Cost?

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jpepaThe Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) signed several months agoby the heads of states of both countries needs to be ratified by the Philippine Senate beforeit can be fully enforced and implemented. Shrouded in secrecy during its negotiations, theagreement is now being foisted upon the Filipino people as a new-age free trade treaty thatwill usher in tremendous economic benefits for the country, expanding market access forPhilippine agriculture exports, allowing Filipino nurses and caregivers gainful employmentin Japan and boosting the flow of foreign direct investments in the country.But like other post-WTO free trade agreements, JPEPA is a comprehensive bilateral freetrade agreement that includes not only trade in goods and services but also areas likeinvestments, competition, and government procurement --the so-called new issues in theWTO that have been excluded from the Doha Round of negotiations because of their verysensitive nature. The proliferation of such agreements is seen as an alternative track fordeveloped countries to maintain and expand their economic and trade interests in thedeveloping world, in the wake of the collapse of the multilateral trade negotiations.

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The ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement: Issues and Problems for Philippine Agriculture

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Asean-EU4The proposed free trade agreement between the Association of SoutheastAsian Nations and the European Union of the ASEAN-EU FTA is certainlya source of concern. For one, it is within the same neoliberal frameworkof further prying open trade and investments in developing countries.Such neoliberal trade and investment pattern failed to usher its promiiseddevelopment in poor countries supposedly through increased tradeopportunities with developed countries and increased investments andjob and income generation in developing countries. This model has alsobeen proven to be devastating to vulnerable sectors such as agriculture which constitute a huge percentage of the economy of many developingcountries including the Philippines. Unfortunately, FTAs also strip devvelopingcountries of policy space and mechanisms that can protect theaffected sectors.

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