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Note exchange marks effective RI-Japan EPA

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Note exchange marks effective RI-Japan EPA

By Novia D. Rulistia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

3 June 2008

Indonesia and Japan have effectively started bilateral economic cooperation under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) framework starting on July 1.

The head of the economic cooperation division at Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Takahiro Wakabayashi, and the trade attache at Indonesia’s Embassy in Japan, Tulus Budhianto, exchanged on Sunday diplomatic notes to mark the cooperation.

"From the agreement, Indonesia will get strategic benefits including the acknowledgment of our products and services in the international market," said Tulus as quoted by Antara.

"The start of the EPA will be marked by a deployment of a thousand Indonesian nurses and housekeepers to help look after the elderly in Japan," he said.

Signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Aug. 20, 2007 in Jakarta, the EPA is a comprehensive economic agreement involving cooperation in several economic sectors.

Development in trade, energy, mining and intellectual property rights are just among the key issues arranged in the EPA.

In addition, the EPA will also involve the cutting or elimination of various import tariffs, as well as the provision of business facilities for increasing Japanese investment in new sectors in Indonesia.

The EPA also includes capacity-building programs for Indonesian industry and manpower.

According to the Industry Ministry, the automotive, electronics and construction sectors will receive an immediate boost from the tariff cuts, as many Japanese investment commitments are in these sectors.

According to the Trade Ministry, bilateral trade last year reached US$30.15 billion, up 10.69 percent from $27.24 billion a year earlier. The increase was supported by high oil, gas and commodity prices.

Indonesia’s exports to Japan stood at $23.63 billion in 2007, up from $21.73 billion in 2006, while its imports reached $6.52 billion, an 18.33 percent increase from $5.52 billion in the previous year.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu has said the EPA would sustain Japan’s existing investment in the country and attract new investment in the future, with an estimated $65 billion in new ventures being offered up until 2010.

Indonesia is Japan’s sixth partner of the EPA after Singapore, Mexico, Malaysia, Chile and Thailand, which have earlier inked similar deals.