Indonesia seeks Korea trade deal by November

JAKARTA • Indonesia aims to sign a long-stalled free trade deal with South Korea by November in a move that could boost two-way trade by billions of dollars, its Trade Ministry said yesterday.

The deal would help to unlock vast natural resource exports including coal, copper, tin, rubber and pulp exports from Indonesia to wealthy South Korea, but negotiations have been on hold since 2014 due to technical disagreements.

Indonesia aims to finalise the agreement at the Korea-Asean summit in November, Trade Ministry spokesman Fajarini Puntodewi told AFP yesterday.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita (picture) and his South Korean counterpart Hyun Chong Kim agreed to resume negotiations during bilateral talks in Jakarta on Tuesday.

A joint statement said both sides would instruct officials to “commence work immediately and make swift progress” on the deal.

The countries would target “reaching a conclusion as soon as possible by the end of this year”, it said.

Bilateral trade was valued at US$20 billion in 2018, but that figure could increase to US$30 billion (RM122.07 billion)  by 2022, according to Indonesia’s Trade Ministry.

In addition to boosting Indonesian exports, a deal would allow greater South Korean investment in South-East Asia’s largest economy.

South Korean firms would have an easier time breaking into Indonesia’s domestic market, which is currently dominated by Chinese and Japanese firms, a South Korean trade official said. — AFP