Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia and the European Union are aiming to wrap up the negotiations on their trade pact by the end of 2023, a Trade Ministry official said on Wednesday.
Negotiations for the Indonesia-EU Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) have been going on since 2016. The Indonesia-EU CEPA is expected to give a major boost to bilateral trade.
"We have just completed the 14th round of negotiations in Brussels just a few days ago. I sincerely believe we will finish the Indonesia-EU CEPA negotiations by Dec. 2023," Deputy Trade Minister Jerry Sambuaga told a conference in Jakarta.
"We have already resolved key issues such as the state-owned enterprises and local content," Jerry said.
Indonesia and the EU are negotiating the trade agreement while suing one another at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The EU launched a complaint against Indonesia for banning exports of unprocessed nickel ores. The WTO backed the EU's lawsuit, and Indonesia has appealed the panel ruling. In 2019, Indonesia filed a lawsuit against the EU over discriminatory measures on its palm oil and oil palm crop-based biofuels.
Jerry said the disputes had zero effect on the Indonesia-EU CEPA negotiations. He added: "We as a country have the right to exercise our rights in every dispute settlement. But one thing is for sure, it is not affecting the Indonesia-EU CEPA negotiations."
EU Ambassador to Indonesia Vincent Piket commented on how the disputes coincided with both parties' efforts on sealing the trade deal.
"So far so good with the Indonesia-EU CEPA negotiations, and in parallel, we have the WTO procedures, which, of course, we prefer not to have. Nevertheless, we will work hard on building long-term economic relations with Indonesia," Piket told reporters.
In 2019, the EU launched the ARISE+ Indonesia, a trade support facility program with a total budget of 15 million euros (approximately $16.3 million). The ARISE+ Indonesia includes technical assistance to help hone relevant government institutions' skills in free trade agreement negotiations. The first phase of the program's technical assistance is set to conclude at the end of this month.
According to the Trade Ministry, the 14th negotiation round on the Indonesia-EU CEPA concluded talks on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), trade remedies, and transparency.
Both sides have reached a consensus on chapters related to customs and trade facilitation, good regulatory practice, as well as sanitary and phytosanitary.
The 15th round of negotiation is slated for July in Indonesia.
Government data shows Indonesia-EU trade amounted to $33.2 billion in 2022. Indonesia exported $21.5 billion worth of goods to the European bloc over the same period. The Southeast Asian country's imports from the EU stood at $11.7 billion.