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The Jakarta Post - 19 January 2022
Govt hopes to conclude trade deals with EU, UAE this year
By Vincent Fabian Thomas
Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi said on Tuesday that at least three trade deals were slated for completion or near completion this year as part of government efforts to diversify export markets.
The three were the Indonesia-European Union Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IEU-CEPA), Indonesia-United Arab Emirates CEPA and Indonesia-Bangladesh Preferential Trade Agreement (IB-PTA).
“In our pipeline, the one that is on the way to finalization is the one with the UAE. It could be done by the end of March this year. For the Bangladesh PTA, it is almost done,” Lutfi told reporters in a virtual press briefing.
“With the European Union, we have been on the 11th round [of discussions]. Our target is we will complete it by the end of this year".
Trade deals are part of Indonesia’s strategy to boost exports, particularly to nontraditional markets. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has long urged his ministries to expand the horizon of the country’s export markets.
Lutfi said the ministry was trying to speed up discussions over trade agreements with Tunisia, Turkey and Iran.
The ministry is also pursuing new trade agreements with a slew of other markets, including South America’s Mercosur, the Eurasian Economic Union, the United Kingdom, India, Canada, Pakistan, Chile, Morocco, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Fiji.
“Fiji, Mauritius and Sri Lanka are already on-going and we will soon begin more rounds [of discussions],” Lutfi said.
Despite the push for new deals, Indonesia still faces problems ratifying those already concluded. The House of Representatives has not approved three trade agreements, namely the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA) and the Indonesia-Korea CEPA.
The RCEP, which is the largest deal among the three, came into effect on Jan. 1 this year. The government aims to have the RCEP ratified by the first quarter of this year.