Jakarta. Indonesia is now open to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement following US President Barack Obama’s victory in a congressional battle over the pact, the country’s chief economic minister said on Friday.
The TPP would cut trade barriers and harmonize standards across 12 Pacific rim economies, including Australia and Japan, that have a combined gross domestic product of $28 trillion.
The government of Southeast Asia’s largest economy was initially opposed to joining the TPP but has had a change of heart since legislation vital to securing the deal was passed by the US Senate in June, Coordinating Minister for Economics Sofyan Djalil said.
“Many policymakers in Asia didn’t believe that President Obama will get the mandate,” Djalil told Reuters in an interview late on Friday. “TPP is now getting closer and closer to reality, and now the option is to join it or you’re left out.”
“Of course we have to look at it, we have to study it comprehensively … But in principal, we don’t have any problem.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence on Friday that the pact could be completed this year even though countries involved failed to overcome feuds over auto trade, dairy goods and next-generation drugs in their latest negotiations.
Indonesia, whose exports have contracted every month since last October due to a drop in commodities, is now studying the potential impact of TPP on its foreign trade, Djalil said.
The country will also start another round of talks on a free trade agreement with the European Union next month, he added.
Indonesia’s exports plunged 12.8 percent in June, while imports tumbled 17.42 percent. The economy grew by 4.67 percent in the second quarter, its slowest pace since 2009.
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