January 30, 2013—Policymakers, development experts, and representatives of the private sector, civil society, and academia discussed Indonesia’s trade and economic outlook and its options for trade policy at a conference in Jakarta. Throughout 2013 Indonesia will be a the center of a number of regional economic activities—taking the helm of the APEC, leading negotiations for the ASEAN Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and hosting a WTO ministerial meeting.
U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel and Trade Minister Gita Irawan Wirjawan ring the gong to officially open the conference.
Speakers discussed the implications of bilateral and regional trade agreements for Indonesia and their potential impact on the economy. These include agreements the ASEAN Framework for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The speakers emphasized that the two agreements were not exclusive: Indonesia could and, some believed, should pursue both. Speakers pointed out that the economic benefits to Indonesia from TPP were larger than from RCEP but that the benefits of participating in both were larger than either one alone. Private sector representatives expressed appreciation for the Ministry of Trade’s outreach through the conference and a desire to be more involved in planning for negotiations.
Speakers included Anoop Singh, the IMF’s Chief Economic for Asia-Pacific; Anton Gunawan, Chief Economic at Bank Danamon; Jeff Schott, a fellow at the Peterson Instutite for International Economics; Peter Petri, Carl J. Shapiro Professor of International Finance in the International Business School; and Michael Plummer, ENI Chair in International Economics Faculty and Academic Liaison, SAIS Bologna.
The conference was organized by the Ministry of Trade and supported financially by USAID’s Support for Economic Analysis Development in Indonesia (SEADI) project (www.seadiproject.com).