Jakarta, Jun 2 (EFE).- The European Union’s top diplomat Wednesday called for speeding up the negotiations on a free trade agreement with Indonesia.
Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was speaking to reporters in a news conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta during his official visit to the country that will conclude on Friday.
“The history of mankind in the 21st century will be written in the Indo-Pacific area. They have to be aware of that. They have to be aware that the center of gravity or the world is no longer in the middle of Europe. Its here in the Pacific, the so-called Indo-Pacific,” Borrell said.
“And the Asean countries in general, and Indonesia, in particular, will be playing a very important role in this evolution. We have to pay more attention, we have to engage more with you. We have to know each other better and we have to cooperate more.”
Recalling that the EU and Indonesia have been negotiating a free trade agreement called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) for six years, Borrell said the two sides should not wait another six years to complete it.
The EU is the fifth largest trading partner of Indonesia, the largest economy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), and the most populous country in the region, with 270 million inhabitants.
Trade between the two amounted to some 20.6 billion euros ($25.13 billion) last year, of which 7.2 billion euros corresponded to European exports and 13.3 billion euros to imports from Indonesia.
Borrell acknowledged the EU’s differences with Indonesia, including the controversy over Indonesian palm oil, which has been affected by the bloc’s sustainability policies.
“It is not a ban. It is a problem about sustainability that we have to solve together.”
Borrell acknowledged the importance of palm oil for the Indonesian economy and its role in reducing poverty.
The EU representative also spoke about Covid-19 vaccination the gap between rich and developing nations due to the shortage of jabs.
He said the EU had exported half of the vaccines it produced to ease the problem of shortages and stressed that the United Kingdom and the United States have exported “almost nothing.”
The EU exported 200 million doses and agreed to donate another 100 million jabs to combat the pandemic in the least developed countries, the EU official said.
The European diplomat said he agreed with the Indonesian minister that recognizing the two-state theory could only solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
He warned that the stance was just rhetoric if no steps were taken to make it a reality. EFE