Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Indonesia Wants EFTA to Recognize ISPO Palm Oil Certification

Jayanty Nada Shofa
August 2, 2023 | 7:04 pm
A worker loads fresh fruit bunches in an oil palm plantation in South Kalimantan on January 1, 2023. (Antara Photo/Bayu Pratama S)
A worker loads fresh fruit bunches in an oil palm plantation in South Kalimantan on January 1, 2023. (Antara Photo/Bayu Pratama S)

Jakarta. Indonesia on Wednesday persuaded Switzerland, a member of the European Free Trade Association or EFTA, to get the group into recognizing the country's sustainability certification scheme for palm oil called the ISPO.

The attempt was made when Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi hosted a meeting with her Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis in Jakarta. The discussions emphasized strengthening economic cooperation, and Indonesia’s trade pact with the EFTA was no exception. 

The EFTA is a trade bloc comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Indonesia has a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with EFTA, which is set to open up market access. This trade deal entered into force in Nov. 2021.

According to government data, Indonesia-Switzerland trade rose from almost $2 billion in 2021 to $2.8 billion the following year. 


During a joint press conference with Cassis, Retno attributed the robust trade growth to the Indonesia-EFTA CEPA. But there is still room for growth, particularly for Indonesia’s top commodity palm oil. Indonesia is hoping that EFTA would recognize the ISPO, which is short for Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil.

“To sustain our trade growth, we identified several initiatives. And I asked Councilor Cassis that Indonesia would like to see the recognition of the ISPO certification to facilitate Indonesia’s palm oil to enter the EFTA market,” Retno told the press briefing.

In March 2021, Switzerland held a popular vote to decide whether it would proceed with the Indonesia-EFTA CEPA. The CEPA saw opposition from Swiss anti-palm oil activists as the commodity could enjoy lower duties if the agreement came into effect. About 51.6 percent of the Swiss voters gave their green light to the trade deal.

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) previously conducted a study to select the certification schemes that qualify for the CEPA. SECO ended up choosing four certification schemes, including  RSPO Identity Protected, RSPO Segregated, ISCC Plus Segregated, and POIG combined with RSPO Identity Protected or Segregated. A Swiss palm oil importer needs to meet any of these four schemes to enjoy the reduced tariff, according to SwissInfo.

Read More: Indonesia, Switzerland to Ratify Bilateral Investment Treaty This Year

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