Mon, 12 Jan 2009
From: The Jakarta Globe
By Ismira Lutfia, Sally Piri & Teguh Prasetyo
Indonesia will ramp-up its diplomacy efforts to counter the possibility of increasing global trade protectionism policies, the Trade Ministry said on Friday.

“Trade attaches have been requested to report to us what governments are doing in response to the financial crisis,” said Trade Minister Marie Elka Pangestu.

“We have to anticipate the possibility of increasing protectionist policies,” she said. “If they did, it would impact on us too. We must be cautious,” she added, without elaborating on how Indonesia would strengthen diplomats’ roles.

Trade experts are concerned that the economic downturn will prompt governments to impose protectionist policies to salvage their own economies. Indonesia has identified 18 countries likely to do so, including Turkey, Egypt and some European Union countries, as well as the United States.

Government officials and business heads have complained about the minimal role the country’s diplomats have played in facilitating trade links.

“I often meet many [trade] attaches, which do not help much and tend to be busy with their own business,” said Erwin Elies, the chairman of the Association of Small Business Exporters, or Hukei.

The chief economics minister sent a letter of complaint to the Foreign Ministry, requesting a more active role by diplomats and trade attaches to support export activities, Edy Putra Irawadi, the minister’s deputy, said on Wednesday.

Teuku Faizasyah, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, on Saturday rejected the accusations and also denied receiving the letter, saying diplomats played an active role in supporting international trade.

“Indonesian representatives always send a diplomatic note and report back to Jakarta should they encounter any tariff or nontariff trade barriers in the host country, and that it will be up to the Trade Ministry to follow up,” Teuku said.

Indonesia is expected to feel the impact of the global economic recession on its exports this year, particularly to hard-hit major economies such as the United States, Japan and in Europe.



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