Padangekspres.net-Rahmat Pramono, director for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic cooperation, said Wednesday that Indonesia was set with its three main economic agendas for the 18th ASEAN Summit that will take place later this week.
“Our internal agenda is consolidation on the utilization of Free Trade Agreements [FTA] by local enterprises. According to our data, there are still many small to medium enterprises who don’t know how to use and benefit from FTAs,” he told The Jakarta Post.
According to Rahmat, lack of access to information related to FTAs is one of the common problems faced by most small and medium enterprises. Most of them also consider the requirements that they need to fulfill, such as the “rule of origin”, as too complicated. The rule of origin asks for detailed information that is important for export destination countries before letting products in.
“It wasn’t meant to make things more complicated, but simply to prevent irresponsible parties who want to misuse the FTA,” he said, adding that most big enterprises have no problem with this thing because they have a lot of staff to do that. Indonesia is also aiming to encourage the private sector to utilize the FTA.
The second agenda is to propose an economic plan for 2015. ASEAN has appointed the ASEAN Development Bank Institute (ADBA), which has done research to support the agenda.
“We have our own data and we’ve listened to ADBA’s presentation. We will discuss it at the summit although the declaration will not be announced at this year’s summit,” he said.
Indonesia is also proposing a program aiming to develop small to medium enterprises in CMLV (Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam) countries. The program aims to reduce the development gap between those countries and the other six ASEAN member countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Philippines).
“ASEAN needs to work on this development gap so that those four countries will be able to benefit from ASEAN’s cooperation mechanisms. That is why we need programs that will push their economic progress.”
“In almost all ASEAN countries, small to medium enterprises are the most important economic pillar,” he said. (swd)