Indonesia signs trade agreement with Efta countries , Latest Business News - The New Paper

Indonesia signs trade agreement with Efta countries

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JAKARTA Indonesia yesterday signed an economic agreement with the European Free Trade Association (Efta) aimed at increasing trade and investment, concluding almost eight years of negotiations.

Under the deal, tariffs and non-tariff barriers would be eliminated for thousands of products traded between Indonesia and the Efta countries, according to government statements.

Efta consists of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland

Among those products, Indonesian palm oil would get full market access in Iceland and Norway, with an exception of palm products for animal feed other than for fish, according to Jakarta's statement. Switzerland would also grant easier access for palm oil, but under certain quotas, its embassy in Jakarta said in a statement.

Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said discussion on market access for palm oil was the sticking point that dragged negotiations on for years.

The first round of talks was held in early 2011.

"They held back our palm," Mr Enggartiastosaid.

"I said, we've gone a long way. You will benefit from this and I too. So if you don't open up for our palm, let's just forget about this," adding that he had threatened to leave Norwegian salmon out of the deal.

Swiss Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann said the agreement was based on sustainable palm oil production.

"As far as palm oil is concerned, believe me, we had intensive discussions in Switzerland as well and we found a solution with our partners here in Indonesia," he said. - REUTERS