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Indonesia hopes to expand farm exports to Japan through an FTA

Kyodo, Friday May 20, 2005

Indonesia hopes to expand farm exports to Japan through an FTA

Visiting Indonesian Coordinating Minister for the Economy Aburizal Bakrie said Friday that Indonesia hopes to expand farm product exports to Japan through a bilateral free trade agreement, on which the two countries are soon expected to launch formal negotiations.

"We’d like to open up to everybody and we also expect Japan to open up to Indonesian products, especially agricultural products which are complementary to agricultural products in Japan," Bakrie told reporters at a Tokyo hotel.

Aiming to conclude an FTA, Japan and Indonesia are expected to agree on the start of talks during the four-day visit by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Japan, which starts May 31.

Bakrie stressed the significance of an FTA with Japan for Indonesia, saying its "strategic relationship with Japan is very important" as the country is the biggest lender to the Southeast Asian country.

He said Indonesia expects to have "easier, better relationship in the economy, trade and investment area and also on the tourism area" through economic partnership, including an FTA, so that bilateral ties become closer.

Bilateral economic cooperation is expected to include Japan’s provision of technical aid, such as capacity building programs for small- and medium-sized enterprises in Indonesia.

Bakrie said Japanese companies have already begun offering such aid in automotive and electronics industries and the cooperation is important for SMEs including micro industries, which provide almost 98 percent of total jobs to Indonesians and account for 95 percent of companies in Indonesia.

The minister called on Japan to increase investment in Indonesia, saying there is more economic and political security as the country has overcome the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Indonesia has also been changing its systems on customs and ports to facilitate trade, Bakrie said.

 source: Kyodo