Jakarta. Indonesia is continuing protracted talks on a free-trade agreement with the European Union, hoping to reach an agreement on the matter before President Joko Widodo's official visit to Europe in April, a minister said on Thursday (03/03).
Chief Economics Minister Darmin Nasution said after a meeting with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Trade Minister Thomas Trikasih Lembong that the government reopened discussions on tariff reduction, service liberalization and foreign ownership.
"We should be brave enough to take the risk with the European Union because we are not in competition with them. It would be different if we were in talks with competitors, like India and China," Darmin said.
The European Union asked for a 95 percent tariff reduction from Indonesia's import duties and an exemption from export duties. The demands, according to Darmin, are based on Vietnam, another EU trade partner, which has waived its export duties under the two countries' partnership agreement.
"We have to reach a milestone. Otherwise, the talks will continue without reaching a conclusion," Darmin added.
Talks to join the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, known as CEPA, with the EU started in 2012 under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's term in office. Negotiations reached a deadlock numerous times as both sides failed to reach an agreement on tariffs and other liberalizations.
Minister Thomas held a similar meeting with Education and Culture Minister Anies Baswedan, and Manpower and Transmigration Minister Hanif Dhakiri on Wednesday.
The Trade Ministry previously said that the CEPA deal will pave the way for Indonesia to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-led trade pact that includes 40 percent of the world's economy.