Thu, 08 Jul 2010

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government will soon discuss a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) consisting of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechstentein, a minister said.

"Today the Indonesian president and his Swiss counterpart agreed to give a mandate to negotiators of the two countries to start negotiating Indonesia-EFTA comprehensive partnership agreement," Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said in a press statement on Wednesday.

Both sides also had agreed that the agreement they would reach would be a comprehensive strategic economic partnership agreement which would not only provide duty-free facilities and open market access but abolish non tariff barriers as well, she said.

"The agreement will put emphasis on human resources capacity building, EFTA investment and economic or technical cooperation which are an integral part of this economic partnership," she said.

She said at their meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard in the capacity as chairman of the EFTA Council also stressed the need for the two countries to hold comprehensive negotiations covering all sectors related to trade and investment.

The negotiations would be based on the principles of equality, mutual respect, spirit to strive for common interests by adhering to the different level of development between both sides, she said.

She said the business world and relevant stakeholders could propose resources and concrete programs from each sector to the negotiating team as inputs to discuss the agreement.

"Inputs from the sectors on the model of capacity building will make the outcome of the negotiations effective and efficient," she said.

The two countries agreed to discuss the economic partnership agreement in 2005 when the Swiss economic minister visited Indonesia.

At that time both nations agreed to explore the possibility of an EFTA-Indonesia trade agreement and set up a joint study group (JSG).

In late 2006, the JSG recommended the formation of a free trade area beneficial to both sides.

When the Swiss president visited Indonesia in February 2007, leaders of the two countries hailed the recommendation and vowed to follow it up.(*)