Indonesia 'must join TPP or be left behind'

JAKARTA • Indonesia must be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal or risk being overtaken by neighbours such as Vietnam, the trade minister said yesterday.

"We don't have a choice," Trade Minister Tom Lembong said at a press conference, noting that Vietnam had joined the TPP and recently formed another trade deal with Europe. "We have already heard many Indonesian factories have closed and moved to Vietnam."

As a result of the new deals, Vietnam had gained a 10 per cent to 14 per cent discount on trade tariffs, Mr Lembong said. During a US visit, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said last month that South-east Asia's largest economy plans to be part of the TPP deal that the United States has already signed with 11 other countries.

Indonesia will first focus on finalising a trade deal with the European Union, which it expects to complete in either late 2017 or early 2018, Mr Lembong said, adding 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... so we will need time to study it," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Indonesia 'must join TPP or be left behind''. Print Edition | Subscribe