Wenny Zulianti

Wenny Zulianti

16
August

The European Commission on Tuesday imposed countervailing duties of 8 percent to 18 percent on imports of subsidized biodiesel from Indonesia, saying the move aimed to restore a level playing field for European Union producers.

“The new import duties are imposed on a provisional basis and the investigation will continue with a possibility to impose definitive measures by mid-December 2019,” the EU executive said in a statement.

Last week Indonesia’s trade minister said he would recommend to an inter-ministerial team a 20 percent-25 percent tariff on EU dairy products in response to the EU targeting the country’s biodiesel, adding that he had asked dairy product importers to find sources of supply outside the 28-nation bloc.

The EU duties are another blow to Indonesian biodiesel producers after the bloc said in March that palm oil should be phased out of renewable transportation fuels due to palm plantations’ contribution to deforestation.

The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the EU, launched an anti-subsidy investigation in December following a complaint by the European Biodiesel Board.

It said its investigation showed that Indonesian biodiesel producers benefit from grants, tax benefits and access to raw materials below market prices.

The EU biodiesel market is worth an estimated 9 billion euros a year, with imports from Indonesia worth about 400 million euros, it said.

Indonesia Biofuels Producers Association (APROBI) Chairman M.P. Tumanggor told Reuters that companies impacted by the anti-subsidy duties will likely be forced to renegotiate their contracts with buyers in the EU and it may reduce 2019’s biodiesel exports.

“We initially targeted 1.4 million tons exports this year to Europe, that will not be reached,” Tumanggor said, adding that exports may only reach around 1 million tons.

He said the group is in consultation with the government to response to the duties decision by the EU.

Indonesian officials did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters on the countervailing duties decision.

16
August

Indonesia has recorded a trade deficit of US$63 million in July on the back of weak commodity prices that has affected its export value, according to Statistic Indonesia (BPS) data released on Thursday.

The figure is a reversal from a June trade surplus of around $300 million. The country’s balance of trade has maintained a negative trend overall from January to July with a deficit of $1.9 billion,  which is still an improvement from the minus $3.21 billion it recorded during the same period in 2018.

Exports in July declined 5.12 percent year-on-year (yoy) to $15.45 billion, while imports fell 15.21 percent yoy to $15.51 billion.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, BPS head Suhariyanto said the trade balance barely missed recording a surplus in July due to declining prices of Indonesia's primary raw materials exports.

He cited the price of crude palm oil, which had declined 0.18 percent yoy, and the price of coal, which had declined 39.72 percent yoy, whereas the export volumes of the two commodities had actually increased in July.

"The structure of our export commodities remains unchanged and still consists mainly of raw materials," said Suhariyanto. "This is a challenge for us to shift our production downstream in order to boost added value and create more jobs."

16
August

China will use its power to quell Hong Kong protests if the situation deteriorates further after some protesters have shown signs of terrorism, China's ambassador to London said on Thursday.

"Should the situation in Hong Kong deteriorate further ... the central government will not sit on its hands and watch," ambassador Liu Xiaoming told reporters.

"We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of (the) Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly," Liu said. "Their moves are severe and violent offences, and already show signs of terrorism."

He added: "the central government of China will never allow a few violent offenders to drag Hong Kong down a dangerous road, down a dangerous abyss."

Ten weeks of confrontations between police and protesters have plunged Hong Kong into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997 after being governed by Britain since 1842.

They have also presented the biggest popular challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping in his seven years in power.

China's ambassador accused unidentified foreign forces of fomenting violent protests in Hong Kong, warning them that their "conniving" efforts had been noticed and that they would end up damaging themselves.

"Foreign forces must stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs," he said. "Stop conniving in violent offences - they should not misjudge the situation and go down the wrong path otherwise they will lift the stone only to drop it on their own feet."

He added: "evidence shows the situation would not have deteriorated so much had it not been for the interference and incitement of foreign forces. Hong Kong is part of China. No foreign country should interfere in Hong Kong’s internal affairs."

Liu also accused Western media of being unbalanced in their reporting and of confusing right and wrong.

16
August

Indonesia believes that dialogue and communication between Pakistan and India wouldbe more desirable to resolve the Kashmir problem.

“From Indonesia's point of view, it would be better if Pakistan and India hold a dialogue and communicate to resolve the Kashmir problem, because a communication deadlock has led to information scarcity, hence various interpretations have emerged and the problem has escalated,” Teuku Faizasyah, spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, said in a statement here on Thursday.

In its most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years, the Indian governmentrecently revoked the special status given to Indian-administered Kashmir in its constitution, AlJazeera reported.

A presidential decree issued on August 5 revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution, and autonomy to make laws on all matters, except defence, communications, and foreign affairs.

In the lead-up to the move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the disputed region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and the Internet, and arrested political leaders.

The move has worsened the already-heightened tensions with neighbouring Pakistan, which said it would downgrade diplomatic relations with India.

The Pakistani government has asked the United Nations Security Council to meet over India's decision to revoke the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir, according to AlJazeera.

"Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But, India should not mistake our restraint for weakness," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote in a letter to the council seen by the Reuters news agency.

Indonesia, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, said peace and security diplomacy must be prioritized in dealing with the Kashmir issue.

Indonesia is also of the view that the solution to the problem should be sought bilaterally by Pakistan and India.

“A bilateral solution is the key to deal with this problem. In the UN Security Council, Indonesia has emphasized the importance of the two countries exercising restraint and resolvingthe problem bilaterally,” Febrian Alphyanto Ruddyard, the Director General of Multilateral Cooperation of the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, said.