Tempo | Friday, 13 February, 2009
Government to Sign Free Trade Agreement
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: The government stated that it will go ahead and sign the ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia and New Zealand on February 27. “So far, there has been no changes,” said Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu yesterday.
According to Mari, during the FTA negotiations, Indonesia had considered all aspects, the positive and negative impacts as well. “We have made our calculations, and there are more plus points than the minuses,” she said, adding that as a negotiator, her department is prioritizing national interest. The government has set measures to deal with the negative effects of the FTA implementation.
Earlier, the Indonesian Businessmen Association chairman called on the government to postpone the ASEAN free trade agreement until the global crisis was over. He asked the government to focus on protecting national products. Free trade was considered damaging to the national industries.
Mari said that free trade would not be implemented immediately after the signing of the agreement. “There is a schedule for everything,” she said.
Sensitive sectors which are considered unprepared for the trade liberalization will only take part prior the end of the agreement in 2020. “We have anticipated this and we have taken preparatory measures,” she said.
The Trade Department’s director for Regional Cooperation, Imam Pambagyo, said a postponement without strong motives will send bad signals to investors. “Indonesia will be seem as being inconsistent,” he told Tempo.
Imam said, Indonesia must be able to produce positive policies during this time of crisis. “Don’t create uncertainty in Indonesia’s business climate,”he said.