On Jan. 10, the long-awaited Free Trade Agreement between Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand comes into effect. This FTA is hardly racing ahead of the pack.
The original documents were signed in February 2009 as part of an overall agreement embracing the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Changes were expected to come into force on Jan. 1, 2010.
However, 18 month passed before Indonesia ratified the agreement — the last cab off the rank. Even then the engine may have been running but the gears weren’t engaged.
Last July, the director general for international trade cooperation Gusmardi Bustami said the FTA’s paperwork could hopefully be completed and the deal be finalized that year.
His optimism was misplaced, but in the labyrinthine world of trade diplomacy getting real results would test the most skilled and patient. If trade...