Indonesia must join TPP trade deal or risk being 'left behind': Trade minister

Indonesian Trade Minister Tom Lembong chats with members of the media during a visit to Rangkasbitung, near Jakarta.
Indonesian Trade Minister Tom Lembong chats with members of the media during a visit to Rangkasbitung, near Jakarta.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (REUTERS) – Indonesia must join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal or risk being overtaken by neighbours such as Vietnam, the trade minister said on Tuesday (Nov 24). 

“We don’t have a choice,” Trade Minister Tom Lembong said at a press conference on Tuesday (Nov 24), noting that Vietnam had joined the TPP and recently formed another trade deal with Europe. 

“We have already heard many Indonesian factories that have closed and moved to Vietnam.” As a result of the new deals, Vietnam had gained a 10-14 per cent discount on trade tariffs, Lembong said.

During a US visit, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said last month that Southeast Asia’s largest economy plans to join the  deal that the United States has already signed with 11 other countries.

Indonesia will first focus on finalising a trade deal with the EU, which it expects to complete in either late 2017 or early 2018, Lembong said, adding that it would join the TPP in three years at the earliest. 

“We will study the TPP (requirements) in parallel. The complete text has only just been released ... and it’s 6,000 pages long, so we’ll need time to study it,” Lembong said.