The Jakarta Post
Twenty-four cities across Sumatra, which are part of the Indonesia City Administration Association's (Apeksi) Regional Commission I, are preparing to face the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community, which will come into effect at the end of 2015.
Preparations were discussed during a working meeting in Batam on Thursday entitled Optimizing the Benefits and Minimizing the Threats of the Implementation of the AEC.
"There are two elements of AFTA [ASEAN free trade area]: opportunities and challenges. It is better to think about the opportunities," Home Ministry special staffer Saut Situmorang said as quoted by Antara news agency.
He urged local governments to prepare their communities to make the most of the opportunities once the AEC came into being.
According to Home Ministry and Industry Ministry data, most of Indonesia's goods are exported to non-ASEAN countries. Thus, he said, Indonesia had to increase its exports to the association's member countries.
In addition, Batam Mayor Ahmad Dahlan said the city administration was encouraging its citizens to learn the languages of other ASEAN states.
"The Thais and Filipinos are learning Indonesian today because they know Indonesia is the biggest market [in ASEAN]," Ahmad said.
The 24 cities in Apeksi's Regional Commission I are Medan, Pematang Siantar, Tanjung Balai, Tebing Tinggi, Binjai, Sibolga, Padang Sidempuan, Gunung Sitoli, Batam, Tanjungpinang, Pekanbaru, Dumai, Padang, Pariaman, Bukittinggi, Solok, Padangpanjang, Sawahlunto, Payakumbuh, Banda Aceh, Sabang, Lhokseumawe, Langsa, and Subulussalam. (nfo)