The Jakarta Post
Indonesia could join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within two years after it finishes all the preparations necessary to join the free trade pact, a minister has said.
Trade Minister Thomas Lembong said the government would provide incentives to local businesspeople before it signed the agreement.
The minister explained that incentives, such as discounted electricity rates and fuel prices for the industrial sector, had been included in the government's third economic stimulus package released on Wednesday.
With the incentives, he said, businesspeople will hopefully keep their production bases in the country, instead of relocating to other countries.
"If the government can provide certainty [over discounted electricity rates and fuel prices and set definite minimum wages], we will join the TPP and also sign an FTA [free trade agreement] with the European Union so that businesspeople will keep their investments in Indonesia," he said as quoted by kontan.co.
Thomas said Indonesia's ability to join all of the free trade agreements would depend on the seriousness of ministries that dealt with technical matters, such as the Industry Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Communications and Information Ministry, the Manpower Ministry and the Health Ministry.
Solid cooperation and support from all stakeholders, including the ministries, society and businesspeople, would be needed to make Indonesian memberships in the TPP and the UE's FTA possible, he said further.
'Therefore, my colleagues at the Trade Ministry and I will work hard to cooperate with other ministries to find solutions to overcome all obstacles at the technical level,' Thomas said.
The Trade Ministry's director general for foreign trade, Bachrul Chairi, says Indonesia has yet to see the urgency in joining the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
He said the government was currently focusing on the free-trade agreement at the ASEAN level.
ASEAN members are consolidating to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is expected to have economic potential as vast as that of the TPP.
Out of the 16 countries joining the RCEP, 10 countries are ASEAN members, with the remaining six being ASEAN trading partners and, involving 3.4 billion people ' or 48 percent of the world population and a US$ 21.7 trillion gross domestic product (GDP), equaling 29 percent of global GDP.
On the other hand, the TPP agreement involves 12 countries ' reflecting a total population of 808.7 million people or 11 percent of the world population. The GDP of those countries reaches $ 27.8 trillion or 37 percent of global GDP.
Indonesia Footwear Association (Aprisindo) chairman Eddy Widjanarko stated that Indonesia would be left behind if it did not join the TPP within the next two years. 'The footwear manufacturing sector is very ready for the TPP.' (ags/ebf)