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Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Indonesia to Seek Japan’s Confirmation on EPA Settlement

Jakarta - Indonesia will seek Japan''s confirmation regarding the settlement of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with that country, trade minister Mari Elka Pangestu said here on Wednesday.
"We will go to Japan to ask for a confirmation on the follow-up of the EPA. We are now still waiting for information from the Japanese ministers of trade, economy and industry and foreign affairs on our planned bilateral meetings," she said.
She said the negotiations on the agreement had now reached the final stage. "We are trying to encourage an early completion of the negotiations and inquire about the schedule and time frame for the two countries'' heads of state to sign the agreement," she said.
Mari plans to leave for Japan on May 16 and later proceed to the US to promote investment.
In the negotiations in March, according to chief negotiator Halida Miljani, the two sides still had yet to reach agreement on the substance of the cooperation.
"We wish the agreement would benefit both sides," she said here some time ago.
Indonesia wished Japan would provide help not only in the form of capacity in building of manufacturing centers to enable the country to also supply components of Japanese standard quality toits automotive, engineering and electronic industries.
"If Indonesia can do this, the benefit would be enormous. The EPA would support industrial development," she said.
Halida admitted that the manufacturing centers could not be materialized in the short-run because the EPA was indeed designed for a long-term partnership.
She also admitted that the funds from Japan for this purpose is very limited, while the building of the center could not fully rely on the official development assistance. In addition, she said, Japan could not force its industries also to give other kinds of help in addition to technical assistance.
In the negotiations on liberalization of trade of goods, Indonesia agreed to abolish import duty on raw materials for the production of components to be used in Japanese companies in Indonesia.
Halida said the mechanism and criteria for the agreement were still being discussed.
Earlier, Indonesia has scrapped steel products for automotive, electronic and engineering industries from the list of goods enjoying an import duty exemption.
The agreement on the import duty exemption was reached on the condition that Japan would help Indonesia in raising the capacity of its steel component industry. "We will continue discussing it to reach agreement," she said. (Source: Antara100507)

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