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Jakarta Post

EU upbeat about trade negotiations despite palm oil issue

  • Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, May 27, 2018   /   06:52 pm
EU upbeat about trade negotiations despite palm oil issue European Union Ambassador to Indonesia Vincent Guerend (left) and then-trade minister Thomas Lembong pose for a photograph in Jakarta in July, 2016. (JP/Anton Hermansyah)

The European Union is confident that the ongoing debate over palm oil with Indonesia will not hamper negotiations on the Indonesia-EU Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (I-EU CEPA). 

The bloc had never considered palm oil a trade issue, as no tariff or import duty was imposed on the commodity so far, said Vincent Guérend, the EU’s head of delegation and ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam.

“We are not specifically talking about palm oil [in I-EU CEPA], because we have 15 chapters to discuss,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday. “It may be an aspect in wider issues, but from our point of view, we have no problem at all.” 

Guérend said the fifth round of negotiations on the Indonesia-EU CEPA was expected to commence in July, following the fourth round held in February in Surakarta, Central Java.

He said the EU also aimed to resolve non-trade issues in the I-EU CEPA negotiation, such as intellectual property rights as well as laws on labor, competition and public procurement. 

The European Parliament has announced plans to phase out palm oil by 2021.

Another issue to be discussed in the July negotiation was investment, and Indonesia continued to have obstacles hampering EU investment, he said.

The Indonesia-EU CEPA, if achieved, will be one of the country’s biggest trade agreements among six ongoing negotiations, including the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) and the Indonesia-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) CEPA.