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Ministry Of Trade Discussion: Issues Surrounding Indonesia and Trans Pacific Partnership

President Barack Obama attends a meeting with the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. At left is Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, and right is U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Ministry of Trade (MOT) with support from The Support for Economic Analysis Development in Indonesia will hold a workshop discussing issues involving Trans Pacific Partnership TPP and its possible impact on Indonesia and ASEAN. The discussion will take place on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at Hotel Aryaduta Jakarta.

The objective of this discussion is to bring together key stakeholders to discuss TPP, how it fits in the broad framework of international trade agreements and the movement toward a more open and transparent international trading system; to outline key issues regarding TPP, including TPPs negotiating agenda; and to discuss possible considerations for Indonesia.

TPP seeks to establish a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges, including: core issues (goods, agriculture, textiles, IPR, TBT, labor, and environment;

cross-cutting issues (e.g., improving the business environment, spurring innovation, creating jobs, and ensuring small- and medium-sized enterprises participate more actively in international trade; and new emerging trade issues (innovative products and services and ensuring state-owned enterprises compete fairly with private companies).

TPP seeks to be a model for other free trade agreements in the future, forging close linkages among economies, enhancing competitiveness, benefitting consumers and supporting the creation and retention of jobs, higher living standards, and the reduction of poverty.  It is also seen by the participants as the core of a future free trade agreement for Asia and the Pacific.

Countries, such as Japan, Canada and Mexico are interested in TPP and are considering joining.

From a Southeastern Asia perspective, fears have grown that TPP will erode ASEAN centrality, a core issue with the ten members of ASEAN.  With four ASEAN members participating in the TPP discussions, this is potentially a significant issue.  In response, ASEAN has set out the framework for its own Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.  This contemplates an agreement among ASEAN Member States and its current FTA partners and other nations.  As this builds on existing FTAs, it is in one sense more advanced than TPP but its focus is less clear and negotiations have not yet begun on an agreement.

Nine countries – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States – are in the process of negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that will enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs.  TPP leaders agreed to seek to finalize an agreement in the coming year.

Indonesia, according to various media report, at the moment chose not to join TPP. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has stated to media that Indonesia would not immediately seek to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade cooperation scheme. As reported in Jakarta Globe, the Indonesian president at a news conference at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summits in Bali last November said, “If I were asked about Indonesia’s position, I would say we choose not to be in a hurry to join the TPP,”. President Yudhoyono thinks that Indonesia still needs to study the TPP scheme and weigh carefully whether joining it will benefit Indonesia. At the same time, as reported in Jakarta Globe, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said that Indonesia would not join the TPP yet because it was not yet ready and that it would take time for Indonesia to be ready.

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