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Jakarta Post

Indonesia prepares to take dispute with EU on palm oil to WTO

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung, West Java   /   Tue, March 19, 2019   /   05:39 pm
Indonesia prepares to take dispute with EU on palm oil to WTO Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

The government is preparing to take its latest dispute with the European Union on crude palm oil (CPO) to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a bid to settle to issue.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita expressed concern about the draft of a supplementing directive to EU Directive 2018/2001 on renewable energy, which was submitted by the European Commission on March 12.

Enggartiasto said Indonesia protested the classification of CPO as a high risk and unsustainable commodity by the European Commission. “The decision [to take the issue to the WTO] was just made at a meeting yesterday. It is now being drafted. We will send the letter to the WTO and assign a lawyer,” the minister said in Bandung on Tuesday.

He was referring to a coordination meeting attended by Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution, Foreign Ministry policy expert Peter F. Gontha, Trade Ministry International Trade Negotiation Director General Imam Pambagyo and Togar Sitanggang of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki).

He said if the draft of the supplementing directive, which would still be reviewed by EU leaders for several months, was agreed, it would close the door for exports of palm oil commodities to EU countries.

International Trade Director General Oke Nurwan said his office was still studying the draft, although he already knew the impact on the major Indonesian commodity should it be approved by EU leaders.

He said the government officials were studying the draft together with law experts to establish in detail the discriminative treatment of palm oil and its derivative products.

“We feel there are discriminative elements. Why is it only for palm oil? How about soybean, rapeseed and sunflower oils,” he asked, adding that the technical language in the draft needed to be interpreted by legal experts.

The Trade Ministry would coordinate with the Coordinating Economic Ministry in dealing with the issue, Nurwan said, adding that, although the diplomacy was so far led by the Foreign Ministry, the government had not made a decision on what institution would take charge in dealing with the case.

Nurwan said while the government was taking the case to the WTO, the business community could also file a discriminative treatment case to a court in the EU to create a more effective combined effort. (bbn)