Indonesia ‘Committed to Free Trade Despite Crisis’

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia remains committed to free trade and is not planning to raise trade barriers in response to the global financial crisis, a minister said this week.
“The government will not impose any policies that could be in breach of Indonesia’s international trade agreements,” Trade Minister Mari Pangestu told reporters at the opening of a trade expo in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Pangestu denied reported comments by a senior trade official last week that Indonesia would impose aggressive non-tariff barriers to protect local industries in response to global market turmoil.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in a speech opening the expo that Indonesia needs to maintain the same growth rate of over six percent it has achieved for the past seven quarters in spite of the crisis.
“It’s important for us to maintain this momentum. We should maintain global demand for Indonesian products,” Yudhoyono said.
The government is targeting the growth of Indonesia’s tourism and creative sectors and increasing income from migrant workers abroad, Yudhoyono said.
Indonesian exports rose to US$95.4 billion between January and August this year, up from $73.35 billion the year before, according to trade ministry figures.
Indonesia enjoyed a trade surplus of $5.6 billion between January and August this year.
World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy warned nations last month against raising stiffer trade barriers, saying a reversal of globalization would deepen the economic effects of the financial crisis.
“One of the important lessons of the Great Depression, which we must not forget, is that protectionism and economic isolationism do not work,” Lamy said.

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