Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) - Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said free trade was not the ultimate goal but a means to achieve sustainable and quality economic growth that touches people from all walks of life.
"Free trade is a means to achieve the goal. Don`t see it as the ultimate goal. But it is negotiation efforts with the model agreed on and believed to be the most important thing to achieve the goal," she said at a seminar on the impact of trade liberalization at the Gajah Mada University (UGM) campus here on Saturday.
She said sustainable, balanced economic development, coupled with fair and transparent trade was the most important thing.
"Sustainable economic growth can be observed through different aspects of the environment. Sustainable economic development does not mean that all the existing natural resources will be exploited but it deals with the way how we manage natural resources without destroying the environment and see free trade not as the goal," she said.
The most important thing was how to achieve maximum gains in trade and manage risks arising from the free trade, she said.
To that end, the country must have competitive edge and comparative advantage in doing trade with the rest of the world, she said.
"Indonesia has high competitive edge and comparative advantage including natural resources in the oil and gas sector. But don`t exploit all the natural resources. We must preserve the environment in exploiting them by among others not dumping waste recklessly," she said.
Indonesia`s competitive edge relied not only on natural resources but also on other sectors such as textile, processed food and furniture, she said.
"The higher number of sectors having competitive edge and comparative advantage can improve the added value, quality, design, and brand of our products. To date, a number of Indonesian products particularly foods have international, regional and domestic brands," she said. (*)