Jokowi Reiterates Indonesia's Intent to Join TPP

Government to accelerate plans to participate in various international trade agreements

By Tabita Diela
Monday, August 22, 2016

Indonesia will join international trade agreements in the future and be actively involved in resolving territorial disputes peacefully as part of the government's efforts to improve the welfare of the country's people, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said during a state address in Jakarta on Tuesday (16/08).

"With strong emphasis on diplomacy, the government will accelerate its plans to participate in various international trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP]," the president said.

The United States-led TPP is competing with the RCEP, backed mainly by China, for dominance in free trade frameworks in the Asia-Pacific region.

Indonesia, the region's fourth largest economy, has over the past years maintained a preference to first complete negotiations on the RCEP as a member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), before taking on other trade deals.

Jokowi told US President Barack Obama during a visit to Washington, DC, last October that Indonesia would open talks on TPP negotiations after Japan and major Asean members such as Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, join the trade pact.

Territorial Disputes

Jokowi said in Tuesday's speech that Indonesia is actively involved in resolving international territorial disputes through negotiations. This includes the latest incidents in the South China Sea.

The president said the government is developing Indonesia's outermost territories, including Entikong in West Kalimantan, the Natuna Islands in Riau Islands province and Atambua in East Nusa Tenggara.

"[We do this] in order to show the world that Indonesia is a great nation and that every inch [of its territory] is well-noted [by the government]," Jokowi said.

Indonesia's foreign policy is part of the government's top four strategic points of focus aimed at eradicating poverty, reducing unemployment and social inequality, including legal and bureaucratic reforms, budget allocations for infrastructure development and the pursuit of political stability and national security.

Indonesia's Center Statistics Agency (BPS) reported on Monday that the country's exports fell by 17 percent to $9.51 billion in July. It was the lowest July value since 2009 on the back of sluggish global economic growth and fewer working days related to the Idul Fitri celebration.

This article first appeared on the Jakarta's Globe's website on August 16, 2016.

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