ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
June 3, 2008
Indonesia and Japan have effectively started bilateral economic cooperation under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) framework after the weekend's exchange of diplomatic notes to mark the cooperation, local press said Monday.
The start of the EPA will be marked further by a deployment of a thousand Indonesian nurses and housekeepers to help look after the elderly in Japan, reported English-language The Jakarta Post, citing Foreign Ministry officials.
Signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Aug. 20, 2007 in Jakarta, the EPA is a comprehensive economic agreement involving cooperation in several economic sectors.
Development in trade, energy, mining and intellectual property rights are just among the key issues arranged in the EPA.
In addition, the EPA will also involve the cutting or elimination of various import tariffs, as well as the provision of business facilities for increasing Japanese investment in new sectors in Indonesia.
The EPA also includes capacity-building programs for Indonesian industry and manpower.
According to the Industry Ministry, the automotive, electronics and construction sectors will receive an immediate boost from the tariff cuts, as many Japanese investment commitments are in these sectors.
According to the Trade Ministry, bilateral trade reached $30.15 billion in 2007, up 10.69 percent from $27.24 billion a year earlier. Over the period, Indonesia's exports to Japan rose to $23.63 billion from $21.73 billion, while its imports surged to $6.52 billion from $5.52 billion.
Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu has said the EPA would sustain Japan's existing investment in the country and attract new investment in the future, with an estimated 65 billion dollars in new ventures being offered up until 2010.
Indonesia is Japan's sixth partner of the EPA after Singapore, Mexico, Malaysia, Chile and Thailand, which have earlier inked similar deals.