The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | August 11 2012,
Chile expects to ink FTA with RI soon: Minister
Chile, an entry point into the South American region, soon expects to set up a free trade agreement (FTA) with Indonesia in a bid to boost bilateral trade and enhance economic cooperation, according to a Chilean minister.
Chilean Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol Bouchon said on Friday that with the FTA, Chile expected to increase its exports of agricultural and forestry products to Indonesia, the large population of which was attractive because of its increasing purchasing power.
“In the agriculture sector, Chile may receive more benefits, but in general, bilateral trade can be more balanced as Indonesia has enormous potential to export petroleum, gas and industrial products,” he told The Jakarta Post in an exclusive interview.
Mayol is on a two-day official visit to Jakarta along with a few members of parliament and business representatives, exploring opportunities in trade and cooperation in the areas of sanitation and the quarantine of agricultural produce.
The free trade deal would also be important for opening up routes to investment in both countries, particularly in the fishery, manufacturing and mining industries, Bouchon added.
A supporter of trade liberalization, Chile has set up FTAs with 58 countries and regions. In Asia, Chile has inked such deals with the likes of China, Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Indonesia and Chile had started pre-negotiation consultations a few years ago, but negotiations had yet to begin, according to the Trade Ministry’s international trade cooperation director general Iman Pambagyo.
“We certainly expect such an agreement with Chile, which is a gate to access other Latin American nations. But we still have a specific time frame to sign the deal as we are still focusing on our internal affairs,” he said in a text message.
Chile is the world’s largest copper producer and one of the biggest global suppliers of some of the world’s finest agriculture products, including fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and wine. The country is the only country besides Mexico from the region that has joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), whose 34 members are mostly of advanced economies.
In 2011, the country booked record forestry and agricultural exports totaling US$14.3 billion, up 16 percent from a year earlier.
Bilateral trade settled at $586.23 million last year, with Indonesia exporting $213.97 million and importing $372.26 million.
Exports were mainly comprised of coal, natural gas, natural rubber, seaweed, thread, footwear and refrigerators, while imports were iron, copper, fruit, chemicals and crude fish oil.
Bouchon said that Chilean agriculture exporters were looking into improving their presence in Indonesia.