Credit: Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories)Indonesia asked Japan to lower or remove fisheries import duties through Indonesia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (IJEPA) scheme, said Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti in a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Tokyo last week.

Japan charges import duty of 7 per cent for Indonesian fishery products. This policy causes Indonesia’s fishery products uncompetitive to Vietnam and Thailand who get exemption of import duties.

Pudjiastuti said Indonesia deserves an import duty exemption as the country is much more vigorous to eradicate illegal fishing than Vietnam and Thailand. In addition, the import duties exemption will also benefit Japanese investors in seafood processing industries.

Regarding Indonesia’s request, Kono said Japan is currently reviewing Indonesia-Japan trade policies and will call the Minister of Agriculture to ask the request.

In addition, Indonesia also offered investment in six integrated marine and fisheries center to Japan, including in Sabang, Morotai, and Natuna. Indonesia is conducting research and evaluation on the impact of integrated marine and fisheries center in western part and eastern part of Indonesia. The result showed that the center significantly increases the tuna caught by fishermen.

Responding to this offer, Kono said he will coordinate with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to give assistance on the integrated marine and fisheries center.

He added the center should not be developed only as the fishing vessel port but also to promote local fisheries products.

Indonesia recorded US$655.9 million surpluses in the trade with Japan in the first quarter of 2018. However, the surplus mostly contributed by oil and gas exports. Indonesia recorded deficit in non-oil and gas trade with Japan for US$250.9 million.

IJEPA was signed in Jakarta on August 20, 2007, and effectively implemented since July 1, 2008. According to the article 151 of the IJEPA Agreement, Indonesia and Japan may conduct a general review of implementation and operation of the agreement in the fifth year after implementation. The general review is a momentum to renegotiate the market access and enhance the broader economic cooperation for both countries.

The initial meeting of IJEPA general review took place in Jakarta on 12 September 2014 and made significant progress on the 6th IJEPA Joint Committee meeting held in Tokyo on November 29-30 November 2017. The meeting also approved the terms of reference (ToR) general review IJEPA.