Thu, 12 Feb 2009
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: Entrepreneurs are asking ASEAN free trade (AFT) to be delayed. The government is asked to focus on the national interest. “We better delay it until the crisis is over,” said head of Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), Sofjan Wanandi, yesterday.

The government is expected to submit the agreement to the new government that will be formed after the election. “AFT does not effect national interests much,” Sofjan said.

He said that the national interest should be prioritized by protecting local products. In other countries like America, the market is protected during the crisis. “Obama officially announced that America will secure their local industries by promoting local products,” he said.

The government plans to sign the AFT with Australia and New Zealand on February 27 in Bangkok, Thailand. The plan has been protested against by many parties including the Department of Industry. The agreement is considered advantageous for countries with a better economic situation and is not good to be applied during the crisis.

The senior researcher from the Global Justice Institute (IGJ), Bonnie Setiawan, said the AFT will only be a burden to the Indonesian economy. “But it will be good for Australia,” he said .

The Director of Regional Cooperation at the Trade Department, Imam Pambagyo, said the free trade forum arranges commitment modification or the possibility to decide on a safe-guard. “When one member wants to modify their agreement, it has to be proved. It cannot just be because of being concerned,” he said.

He explained that Indonesia should prove the disadvantages. “We have to be fair or we'll lose our credibility,” he said.

ALI NY | VENNIE MELYANI



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