Posted by: mel | January 17, 2010

Indonesia back-tracks on China trade pact

AFP | Jakarta |  January 2010

Indonesia has asked to re-write a new regional trade pact with China, citing fears of job losses due to a flood of cheap Chinese imports across various sectors, officials said Wednesday.

The government has sought to maintain 228 tariff lines for another two years rather than cut them as required under the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which Jakarta first signed in 2002 and took full effect on January 1.

“The letter of notification on negotiations to discuss modifications to the 228 tariff items was submitted on December 31,” Trade Ministry official Gusmardi Bustami said.

Trade Minister Mari Pangestu has refused to comment on the pact and would not confirm that a formal request for further protection had been sent to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“I won’t comment on the notification letter. I’ve informally discussed the 228 tariff items with ASEAN,” she told reporters in response to repeated requests for clarification of Indonesia’s position.

She had previously said only that Indonesia would honour its commitments under the free trade pact.

Industry ministry spokesman Muhdori said a two-year reprieve from zero tariffs was required in sectors including electronics, machinery, furniture, steel, textiles and chemicals.

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