Tue, 11 Oct 1994

House agrees to ratify WTO bill tomorrow

JAKARTA (JP): Commission I of the House of Representatives (DPR) recommended yesterday that the DPR pass a law on the ratification of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The commission's seven hour deliberation on the WTO bill yesterday went smoothly as no one raised objections on the essence of the content of the bill.

The DPR is scheduled to pass the bill into law tomorrow in a plenary session, which will also discuss a bill on an extradition agreement between Indonesia and Australia.

Minister of Trade Satrio Budiardjo Joedono told The Jakarta Post after yesterday's deliberation that Indonesia, by ratifying the GATT agreement tomorrow, will set a good example for other members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which will have their second leadership meeting in Bogor, West Java, next month.

When asked about what might happen the WTO if the United States fails to ratify it, Joedono said its formation would essentially be meaningless without the U.S. approval.

Joedono said, however, that in a one day ministerial meeting here last week, APEC trade ministers had agreed to speed up the process of the ratification of the WTO, so that it could be formed early next year.

The United States is a member of APEC, along with Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Indonesia. Chile will be awarded full member status in next month's summit.

The establishment of the WTO is partly concludes the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, which was signed in Marrakesh last April. The package includes the Final Act of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) as well as ministerial decisions and declarations.


The main functions of the WTO will be to administer the results of the multilateral trade negotiations (GATT), to settle trade disputes, to review its members' trade policies, to facilitate negotiations among its members and to spur cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international institutions.

The WTO will consist of a Ministerial Conference, General Council, Council for Trade in Goods, Council for Trade in Services, Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, Dispute Settlement Body and Trade Policy Review Body.

Minister Joedono said his ministry will establish a new directorate to deal specifically with affairs related to the WTO.

Joedono said Indonesia will benefit greatly from the WTO if it is actually formed next year, gaining better market access for Indonesian products and fairer international trade practices that will protect the economically weak from the growing pressure of the stronger countries. (rid)