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RI expects to finalize negotiations on FTA with Australia next year

Antara 06/13/08

RI expects to finalize negotiations on FTA with Australia next year

Jakarta (ANTARA News) — Indonesia hopes to complete its bilateral negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia in 2009 if talks on FTA at ASEAN level (including Australia and New Zealand) are concluded this year, Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said.

"We will wait for the completion of talks on ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand (AANZ) free trade this year," the minister said here on Friday.

She said that after the AANZ negotiations were finalized Indonesia and Australia would discuss their bilateral FTA deal which was expected to be finished in 2009.

Negotiations on FTA AANZ began in Vietnam early in June but both sides had not yet agreed on any modality for the regional FTA, she said.

Australia and New Zealand want that the market for 96 percent of the tariff posts of commodities should be opened but ASEAN countries want smaller tariff post percentage.

So far, various FTA negotiations have been discussing only 90 percent of the tariff posts. The remaining were lists of sensitive products whose market were not open.

Australia and New Zealand have been asking that animal products —their principal commodities such as meat and milk— be freed from import duties.

Indonesian, in the meantime, asked Australia and New Zealand to open their market for textile and textile products.

Director for Regional Trade Affairs of the Trade Ministry, Iman Pambagyo said Indonesia had asked for the inclusion of textile and textile commodities in the lists of reduced tariff products.

Indonesia has asked 3.5 - 17.5 percent import duties for the two commodities.

So far, China is the only country which has imposed a zero percent import duty on textile and textile products.

Iman said Indonesia had a chance to increase its textile and textile product exports to Australia and New Zealand.

"But we have to decide the types of our commodities for which we would ask for a zero percent tariff. We cannot ask for zero percent tariff for all types of our textile and textile products," he said.

For this purpose, the government will ask for advice from textile industries in the country on the types of textile products which have good prospects when exported to Australia and New Zealand, he said.(*)