March 17, 2023
Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ)
I am Rahmat Maulana Sidik, Executive Director of Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ) and a lawyer. Since IPEF was launched, we have been concerned that it will serve as a tool for the interests of developed countries to put pressure on developing countries. This is evidenced by the US being the one which tabled the textsi. In this position, we clearly state that the IPEF initiated by the USA will not bring benefits to developing countries. Within IPEF developed countries are not removing tariffs on products exported by developing countries and developed country governments in IPEF cannot force their companies to invest or transfer their technology or knowledge to developing countries in IPEF.
But IPEF has many costs for developing countries. For example:
- We are also concerned that IPEF has the potential to harm developing countries that are in IPEF. We share the concerns expressed by FIAN Indonesia about any IPEF provisions that make it more difficult to regulate GMOs in the agricultural and food sectors. This will be dangerous not only for the rights of local farmers but also for domestic consumers in developing countries, because GMOs are not necessarily safe for consumption.
- We also share the concerns conveyed by the Sahita Institute, about any IPEF proposals that will lock in the ability of multinational companies engaged in the digital sector to transfer Indonesians’ data abroad, so that public and private data are vulnerable to misuse. Not only that, we are also worried that the IPEF will prevent Indonesia and other IPEF countries from being able to impose customs duties on downloaded movies, songs, books etc.
- IPEF may restrict the ability of developing countries like Indonesia to provide much- needed subsidies to its fisherfolk as EKOMARIN has said.
If these kinds of problematic provisions are agreed in IPEF, it will severely limit policy and regulatory space in IPEF developing countries because they will have to change their laws and regulations etc to comply with IPEF.
Therefore, given these costs and the lack of benefit for developing countries in IPEF, nothing in IPEF should restrict developing country policy and regulatory space beyond existing WTO rules.
If the US in IPEF is effectively exporting its laws to developing countries and requiring them to comply with them, it reminds me of the colonial era, when powerful countries controlled a country not only taking its natural resources but also forcing by their laws and regulations on the colonized countries. So, if the same thing is done in this IPEF, it will be no different from colonization, it’s just under a different name.
We would like to remind you that the IPEF negotiation process must be carried out in a transparent and democratic manner. Transparency must start from access to the negotiating texts, to public involvement in it. In the Indonesian context, transparency of information and public involvement regarding international agreements that will have a broad impact on the people are required by the constitution as well as the Law on International Agreements, the Law on Trade and the Law on Public Information Disclosure. Because, if IPEF obliges Indonesia to change its laws, Indonesia must consult with stakeholders and this cannot be done effectively without providing stakeholders with access to the negotiating text. Therefore, IPEF countries must publish the negotiating text before each round of negotiations, so that the Indonesian government can comply with it’s constitutional obligation to consult with stakeholders about any new (or amended?) laws required by IPEF.
Thank you for this opportunity to provide comments.
Rahmat Maulana Sidik
Executive Director of Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ)