Jakarta. Indonesia will helm the ASEAN bloc in 2023, and in the same year, Sweden will assume the chairmanship of the Council of the European Union. The green transition will likely become a large part of the collaboration as the two countries lead the world’s two major trading blocs, according to a Swedish envoy.
“As for the coinciding presidencies, we have not decided yet exactly [the area of cooperation]. But definitely, it will be close to a green transition,” Swedish ambassador to Indonesia Marina Berg said at the Sweden-Indonesia Sustainability Partnership (SISP) event in Jakarta on Monday.
“This includes trying to find ways of collaboration even more efficiently, deeper, and broader cooperation in the green transition,” Berg added.
According to Berg, the two presidencies —backed up by regular political dialogues between both countries— would serve as a great opportunity to deepen political and business relations.
“We look forward to collaborating with the Indonesian government to identify concrete prospects of joint actions in areas of mutual interests,” she said.
Per-Arne Hjelmborn, the director-general for trade at the Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry, said that the 2023 EU-ASEAN presidencies could help bolster the region-to-region partnership.
"Cooperation in many areas, but not least in connectivity and transport. But also to continue developing sustainable practices across the board," Hjelmborn told the 2022 SISP conference.
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EU and ASEAN have inked a comprehensive agreement on air transport, marking the first world's bloc-to-bloc cooperation of its kind.
“This agreement reflects the growing ambition to connect the European region with ASEAN,” Hjelmborn said.
The EU wrote on its official website that the agreement would open up more air transport opportunities and enhance direct connectivity between the two regions while upgrading rules and standards for concerned flights.
Early next year, the Czech Republic will pass on the rotating presidency over the Council of the EU to Sweden. Indonesia is taking over the 2023 ASEAN chair from Cambodia.
EU-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement
Indonesia and the EU are currently working on a free trade agreement, which is expected to create new market access, among others. Negotiations for the free trade agreement have taken place since 2016.
“We have been working on establishing a free trade agreement for some time. That is, of course, one of the issues for the Swedish presidency to take forward next year,” Berg said.
EU-Indonesia held its eleventh round of negotiations in Nov. 2021. The EU reported that both sides had reached an agreement on the sanitary and phytosanitary matters (SPS) chapter.
The EU claimed that it was Indonesia's fifth-largest trading partner in 2020. Bilateral trade in goods reached €20.6 billion (around $21.7 billion) in 2020, with EU exports worth €7.2 billion and its imports amounting to €13.3 billion, the EU data showed. The Indonesian government reported that the Sweden-Indonesia bilateral trade stood at $800 million in 2021, up by around 33 percent from the previous year.