GMA off Today for Finland; Will Be Away for 9 Days on a Five-Nation Trip RP-Japan Economic Partnership Accord Set for Signing

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Byline: DAVID CAGAHASTIAN

President Arroyo will leave today for a five-nation trip in the next nine days during which she will work to strengthen economic and political ties with European and Asian countries, and enhance the country's reputation in upholding and protecting human rights.

Mrs. Arroyo will leave the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 at 6:25 a.m. today for Helsinki, Finland, where she will represent the Philippines in the sixth summit of world leaders of the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) which is expected to tackle international issues like trade, environment preservation, energy sustainability, terrorism and other security threats.

The Sixth ASEM Summit (ASEM6) on Sept. 10 to 11 will be hosted by Finland as the current president of the European Union. It will be attended by government leaders of other EU members, the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN dialogue partners Japan, South Korea and China.

Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said at the sidelines of ASEM6, Mrs. Arroyo will sign the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) which is expected to open up the Japanese health industry to Filipino nurses and caregivers in exchange for lower Philippine tariffs for Japanese cars and automotive parts.

Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo's signing of the JPEPA with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi would be her first activity upon arriving in Finland.

The Japanese government's Foreign Press Center (FPC) said the ratification of the JPEPA is "expected to promote liberalizing and facilitating trade and investment, and building mutually beneficial economic partnerships in a wide range of fields, which would further invigorate the economies of both countries. …