Philippines seeks more favorable trade terms with Indonesia

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is asking Indonesia to relax its protocol in a bid to correct the trade imbalance which is in favor of the ASEAN neighboring country.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said trade negotiators between the two countries are meeting in Jakarta for a two-day meeting with the aim of settling the restrictions and disparity in trade imbalance.

“The restrictive export requirements of Indonesia have made it difficult for Philippine agricultural products to enter their country,” Piñol said.

Government data showed that Indonesia exports $1 billion worth of agricultural products to the Philippines mainly palm oil while allowing only a measly $50 million of exports from the Philippines.

“The Philippines aims to drastically correct the trade deficit of about $950 million by convincing Indonesia to ease up on its export protocols,” he added.

The Philippines used to export a huge volume of horticultural products to Indonesia, including shallots and tobacco but restrictive import policies imposed tilted the trade balance in favor of Indonesia.

However, the engagements between President Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo resulted in the softening of Indonesia’s policies.

Last month, Piñol and Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Sinyo Harry Sarundaja signed a joint declaration to start “friendly and brotherly” negotiations to allow more Philippine agricultural products to enter Indonesia.

The joint declaration also called for the formation of negotiating teams from both countries to start talks in Jakarta.

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