Indonesia stands ready to face official complaints from the European Union (EU) over the country's curbs on exporting nickel and other raw materials at the World Trade Organization - Photo: Special.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia stands ready to face official complaints from the European Union (EU) over the country’s curbs on exporting nickel and other raw materials at the World Trade Organization (WTO) two months ago, said vice minister of trade on Tuesday (01/07). The two sides will hold a consultation meeting on Jan 30 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Currently, Indonesia is increasing coordination across ministries to explore and prepare for Indonesia’s position in dealing with the EU at the WTO. This is in line with President Jokowi Widodo’s direction to increase efforts to defend Indonesia’s interests in the international trade forum,” said vice trade minister, Jerry Sambuaga, in an official statement.

The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy in the 28-member EU, has launched a complaint at the WTO two months ago against Indonesia’s curbs on exporting nickel and other raw materials, said the restrictions unfairly limited EU producers’ access to nickel ore in particular, as well as to scraps, coal and coke, iron ore and chromium.

The Commission’s complaint says the measures are part of a plan to develop Indonesia’s stainless steel industry. The country is the world’s largest miner of nickel ore and is set to ban exports for two years from 2020. Indonesia has become the second-largest exporter of stainless steel and its share of the EU market has risen from near zero in 2017 to 18 percent in the second quarter of 2019, European steel association Eurofer said.

“On Nov 29, Indonesia agreed to a request for consultation by the EU within the framework of the WTO to discuss Indonesia’s mineral and coal policies. The consultation meeting was a follow-up to the bloc’s lawsuit on nickel export policies issued by Indonesia,” Sambuaga said.

The consultation meeting was a forum for WTO members aimed at digging deeper into the policies of trade partner countries that allegedly violated commitments at the WTO. If not reached deals, the process will proceed with the resolution of disputes at the WTO through the establishment of a panel.

One of the objects of this consultation includes Law No. 4 of 2009 concerning Minerals and Coal and several derivative regulations, Sambuaga noted, adding there was no increase in tension between the two sides.

“The process is a natural thing for WTO members to mutually test each other’s rights and obligations based on the commitments that have been made,” head of the ministry of trade’s advocacy bureau, Sondang Anggraini stressed.

Indonesia has stipulated a ban on the export of nickel ore from this month. The provision is regulated in the minister of energy and mineral resources regulation no.11 of 2019 concerning mineral mining and coal.

The government’s export ban on nickel ore aims to realize sustainable mining management while preserving the environment. Export ban nickel is also intended to supply domestic needs and to be processed domestically to become value-added products, it said.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com