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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        25  February 2011

France to increase Indonesia investments

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French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde says France is looking to increase investments in Indonesia.

"We want to double the growth rate of trade between France and Indonesia," Lagarde told reporters at the offices of the Ministry of Trade in Jakarta on Thursday evening.

Lagarde is visiting Indonesia for a bilateral meeting with the Indonesian Minister of Trade, Mari Elka Pangestu. It is the first visit made by France at a ministerial level in 14 years.

The growth rate, which is currently at 5 percent, is too small, she said. Last year, the value of trade between the two countries stood at $2.5 billion.

Along with Lagarde, more than 40 delegates from the Association of French Entrepreneurs (MEDEF) represented businesses that have operated in Indonesia or seek to invest in Indonesia - including Carrefour, EADS, Nestle, and Eurocopter. The French junior minister for transportation, Thierry Mariani, was also present at the meeting.

"This is an important visit for Indonesia," Mari Elka Pangestu said. "France is the leader of the G20 and one of Indonesia's main trading partners in the European Union."

Lagarde said France and Indonesia had a lot in common, since France was going to lead G20 meeting and Indonesia was leading ASEAN this year. She said for that reason, both countries should make sure that they were heading in the same direction.

"We want to reduce imbalances, bring discipline, and make sure that commodity prices will not skyrocket," she said, adding that this would also be the goal of this year's G20 meeting.

The meeting discussed how Indonesia and France should implement the strategic partnership signed by both countries in 2009, Mari said.

"Regarding the Renewable Energy Directives [RED] that was released by the European Union, we told Minister Lagarde that France should support Indonesia in clarifying the EU's scientific methodology of CPO default value. Indonesia has asked for the EU's commitment in joint research of RED," Mari said.

A number of significant sectors were discussed at the meeting - such as energy, transportation and aerospace.

"We have explained how [France] can participate within Indonesia's economic corridor and create sustainable business," Mari added.

France is currently the 23rd-largest importer of Indonesian commodities. The main export commodities to France include electrical transformers, static converters, furniture and parts thereof, cocoa butter, fat and oil.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is the 13th-largest importer of French commodities - with the main imports including self-propelled bulldozers, excavators and heavy machinery.

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