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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     21-22 November  2011

“Not in a hurry to join TPP”, President SBY

Bali, 19 Nov 2011- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said "If I were asked about Indonesia`s position, I will say we choose not to be in a hurry to join the TPP," he said at a press conference at the end of the 19th ASEAN Summit and the 6th East Asia Summit here on Saturday.

He said the TPP issue was discussed intensively at recent world meetings such as the APEC Summit in Honolulu and the G-20 meeting in France but not at the ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN Plus Summit and the East Asia Summit here in Bali.

He said the TPP actually was not binding on ASEAN members. "ASEAN as an entity can indeed cooperate with non-ASEAN countries in the Pacific region. But Indonesia still needs to study the TPP scheme and weigh carefully whether joining it will benefit our real sector," he said.

US President Barack Obama at the APEC Summit in Honolulu on Sunday (Nov 11) formally called on countries in the region to join the TPP.

The TPP was initiated by nine countries, four of which are members of ASEAN, namely Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

President Yudhoyono said before joining any international cooperation scheme, Indonesia always must see if it would benefit trade, investment and employment. "If it has done all that and concluded it will bring benefit, we will say `okay, we will join TPP`," he said.

Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan had earlier also said that Indonesia would not join TPP yet because it was not yet ready and it would take time before it would do so.

So far Indonesia has not yet been able to measure if the TPP would benefit Indonesia.

In principle Gita said Indonesia had already taken a stand and voiced it although the call was made by a big country.

He said achieving a certain degree of competitiveness would take quite a long time because Indonesia was not like advanced countries that had started industrializing 200 years ago.

The chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association, Sofjan Wanandi, had said Indonesia still needed a `lot of homework` before it could decide whether or not it would join the TPP.

"We must first eliminate all of our domestic economic obstacles before we can open our market completely," he said.

If Indonesia was not yet ready for TPP, it should not join although it was proposed by the US, he said.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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