20.03.2019 (Indonesia Expat) - In a bid to settle its dispute with the European Union (EU) on crude palm oil (CPO), the Indonesian government is preparing to bring the case to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Indonesian Trade Minister, Enggartiasto Lukita, expressed his concerns about the draft of a supplementing directive to EU Directive 2018/2001 on renewable energy, submitted by the European Commission on 12th March.
Indonesia is aiming to protest the classification of CPO as a high risk and unsustainable commodity by the European Commission. “The decision was just made in a meeting yesterday. It is now being drafted. We will send the letter to the WTO and assign a lawyer,” the minister said in Bandung on Tuesday. He also commented that if the draft of the supplementing directive, which would still need be reviewed by EU leaders for several months, was agreed, it would close the door for exports of palm oil commodities to EU countries.
International Trade Director General Oke Nurwan mentioned that he is still studying the draft, although he is already aware of its impact on the country, should it be approved by the EU leaders. Government officials and law experts are currently studying the draft together to establish, in detail, the discriminative treatment of palm oil and its derivative products. “We feel there are discriminative elements. Why is it only for palm oil? How about soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower oils?” he asked. There is technical language in the draft that needs to be interpreted by legal experts.
While the Trade Ministry and the Economic Ministry are set to deal with the issue, diplomatic issues have traditionally been led by the Foreign Ministry. The government will have to make a decision on which institution would take charge while dealing with the case. Nurwan also added that the case should not only be taken by the government, but also by the business community to create a more effective, combined effort.