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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 20:40 PM | 27-04-2016

ASEAN must open up: Jokowi

The key to progress and region-wide growth in ASEAN is for all member states to commit to reform and market liberalization, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told chief editors of newspapers from across the ASEAN region at the State Palace, The Jakarta Post reported on Wednesday (27 April 2016).

Responding to questions from journalists representing major ASEAN member states on whether Indonesia could exercise leadership in ASEAN, Jokowi said the current global economic slowdown could be the impetus for imposing economic reforms.

“For me there are two groups of countries (in ASEAN): those that want reform and those that don’t want reform. Indonesia certainly wants reform,” Jokowi said after a luncheon at the State Palace on Tuesday.

At least 13 editors-in-chief of ASEAN media companies met with Jokowi on Tuesday to discuss regional media collaboration efforts in a bid to help foster an ASEAN identity.

Later in his remarks, Jokowi said that openness and competition have become the two guiding principles adopted by his government to ensure that Indonesia can take full advantage of the globalized economy.

Jokowi asserted that it was no longer realistic for any country to be closed-minded, saying that “technology (had) made the world smaller and social media (had) made the world faster.”

On the issue of competition, Jokowi said that exposing different sectors to increased competition would benefit the country in the long run.

On the question of regionalism, Jokowi said integration with other economic blocs was now the order of the day and no one ASEAN member state could close its border to such cooperation.

“But economic (cooperation) must bring prosperity to our people. ASEAN is in a new era, the era of the economic community,” he said.

To this end, the President suggested that the ASEAN community be ready to strengthen relations with other regions, especially now that the global economy was experiencing a slowdown.

With Indonesia currently representing 45 percent of the region’s GDP, in addition to housing ASEAN’s largest working-age population, Jokowi pledged that Indonesia was ready to become “the gateway to ASEAN” so that its regional neighbors could engage in talks on further expanding free trade agreements.

According to 2015 data from the ASEAN secretariat, the GDP of the entire region stands at US$2.57 trillion.

Indonesian Trade Minister Thomas T. Lembong said earlier on Monday that the government was aiming to secure its Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the EU within a year, which will force various national standards to be upgraded to European levels.

During a panel discussion commemorating the 33rd anniversary of The Jakarta Post, Thomas also defended the government’s openness to the possibility of Indonesia entering into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The minister said Indonesia would pursue in the interim the EU CEPA as well as an Australian CEPA, which he was optimistic about securing in the next 12 to 18 months.

“We’ve gone on record saying that the top priority is to get the CEPA with the EU. Jokowi has made it an official Cabinet decision and has given me a deadline of two years,” he said on Monday evening.

 

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