The Jakarta Post31 Jan 2017 Stefani Ribka
Indonesia and the European Union (EU) have concluded the conceptual phase of negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) last week, opening a new page for the third round of negotiations that will deepen into technicalities, especially on market access.
Negotiations for the agreement, initiated in 2009 to improve trade, investment and training cooperation between the two parties, had been stuck at a scoping paper submitted in 2012 but was finally agreed upon last year under the President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration.
Agreement of the scoping paper was then continued with the first round of negotiations in Brussels last September and the second round last Tuesday to Friday in Bali. However, both negotiations merely touched the surface and had yet to discuss trade technicalities.
Iman Pambagyo, the international trade negotiations director general of the Trade Ministry, said the next round would most likely be in September and would target progression of text-based negotiations and begin market access negotiations.
“We’re upbeat we can discuss the technicalities more comprehensively. […] We’re positive about the aspirations for concluding the trade agreement at the end of 2018,” he said.
Iman said the second round, which was only suppose to agree on negotiation modalities on various topics in the following rounds and understanding each parties’ goals, had gone well.
For the third round, negotiations can be concluded on trade of goods and services, trade remedies, duties, trade facilities, technicalities of sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, intellectual property rights, business competition, policy transparency, dispute settlement as well as sustainable trade and development.
However, discussions on trade of goods’ modalities face technical challenges as both parties have agreed to use a harmonized commodity description, the international coding system (HS) 2017. Indonesia will use it in the next two months while EU has been using it since Jan. 1.
“We’ll need to have the same HS system first so that we can begin preparing each of our trade tariff data. With only that can we inform our tariff [ease] proposals for around August,” Iman said.
After the conclusion of the second round, both parties held the eighth Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI) last Saturday. Indonesia brought the EU’s policies regarding trade to palm oil, cacao, wood products and fisheries into the spotlight. Other EU policies focused on include EU’s new directive on renewable energy, modernization of EU’s trade remedies policies, European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade-Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA).
The EU, meanwhile, pointed out Indonesia’s policies on investment, export and import procedures, pre-shipment inspections, alcohol import requirements, stainless steel, Indonesian National Standards (SNI), halal issue, limitation on import gateway ports, adherence to livestock international standards includ- ing sanitary and phytosanitary, as needing attention.
Though deemed successful by the government, civil society groups call for transparent CEPA negotiations so the latter can monitor the progress and make sure the deal does not only benefit transnational companies. “Indonesian lawmakers also need to actively monitor the process so the deals don’t contradict the constitution,” said Rachmi Hertanti, the executive director of Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ).