Dian Septiari, Jakarta – Amid increasing trade tensions between Indonesia and the European Union, European businesses called for constructive dialogue over the contentious issue of palm oil on Thursday as they seek to expand trade and investment in Indonesia.
The EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC), together with EuroCham Indonesia, held a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Thursday, during which they expressed the "strong commitment and optimism of European companies to expand trade and investment in Indonesia", according to the council chairman.
The EU businesses are also committed to playing "a constructive role in support of the President's objectives of human capital development, infrastructure and economic transformation, in sectors from manufacturing to logistics, energy to insurance and banking", EU-ABC chairman Donald Kanak said in a statement.
At the meeting, Jokowi expressed his disappointment that all the data and information about the actual condition of Indonesia's oil palm plantations by the Indonesian government and palm oil producers did not receive attention from the EU.
EU-ABC executive director Chris Humphrey said that EU businesses have continued to encourage both the European Commission and the countries in ASEAN to engage in constructive dialogue on the palm oil issue through the newly formed intergovernmental working group to resolve the misconceptions held by both sides.
"It is our view that the palm oil issue can only be resolved by both sides entering into meaningful discussions and we encourage them to do so. There are misconceptions on both sides that need to be discussed and resolved," he said.
"It is not a ban on palm oil exports to the EU. Equally, the EU needs to do more to understand and appreciate the concerns in Southeast Asia and recognize the advances made on sustainability. Constructive dialogue through the newly formed intergovernmental working group is the only way forward."
The Thursday meeting was part of the council's annual business mission to Indonesia, which brought more than 30 European companies for meetings with the Indonesian government and local businesses. (ipa)