ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Cities in Sumatra gear up for ASEAN single market
Twenty-four cities across Sumatra that are part of the Indonesia City Administration Association’s (Apeksi) Regional Commission I are preparing to face the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will come into effect at the end of 2015.
Preparations were discussed during a working meeting in Batam on Thursday titled “Optimizing the Benefits and Minimizing the Threats of the Implementation of the AEC”.
“There are two elements of AFTA [ASEAN free trade area]: opportunities and challenges. It is better to think about the opportunities,” Home Ministry special staffer Saut Situmorang said as quoted by Antara news agency.
He urged local governments to prepare their communities to make the most of the opportunities once the AEC came into being.
According to Home Ministry and Industry Ministry data, most of Indonesia’s goods are exported to non-ASEAN countries. Thus, he said, Indonesia had to increase its exports to the association’s member countries.
In addition, Batam Mayor Ahmad Dahlan said the city administration was encouraging its citizens to learn the languages of other ASEAN states.
“The Thais and Filipinos are learning Indonesian today because they know Indonesia is the biggest market [in ASEAN],” Ahmad said.
The 24 cities in Apeksi’s Regional Commission I are Medan, Pematang Siantar, Tanjung Balai, Tebing Tinggi, Binjai, Sibolga, Padang Sidempuan, Gunung Sitoli, Batam, Tanjungpinang, Pekanbaru, Dumai, Padang, Pariaman, Bukittinggi, Solok, Padang panjang, Sawahlunto, Payakumbuh, Banda Aceh, Sabang, Lhokseumawe, Langsa and Subulussalam.
ASEAN — which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia — agreed in 2007 to establish the ASEAN Economic Community. The free trade agreement will be fully implemented in 2015 by all members, except Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, which will fully participate in 2018.
Indonesian businessmen have warned that Indonesian manufacturers will be unable to compete with their peers in ASEAN, without the government’s support.
Djatmiko Bris Witjaksono, director for ASEAN cooperation at the Trade Ministry’s international trade cooperation directorate general, said recently that Indonesia still needed to negotiate some barriers, particularly when it came to commodities that affected a significant portion of the Indonesian people.
“Rice, for example, is sensitive because it affects millions of Indonesian farmers. There are issues about production quality that we are still working on. It would be unwise to have wide-open access for rice,” he said.
Indonesia News, Trade, Rice , Asean, Indonesian farmers, Sumatra
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