‘No delay’ to China FTA: Asean

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Southeast Asian countries will not delay implementing a free-trade zone with China that has drawn fire from some industry groups, a senior regional official said on Wednesday.

The Asian Wall Street Journal reported that Indonesia wanted to renegotiate the trade agreement that took effect on Jan 1 and had sent a letter to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) asking for a one-year delay in imposing zero tariffs on a range of goods due to concerns about low-cost Chinese imports.

Surin Pitsuwan, Asean Secretary General, said he was not aware of such a letter. ‘My impression is all capitals are adjusting very well and are very, very committed,’ he told Reuters in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang, where Asean’s 10 Foreign Ministers were meeting.

‘From what I heard, some private sectors are complaining, but the governments are not going to do anything to delay.’ A spokesman for Indonesia’s Industry Ministry, Muhrodi, said that his department had sent a letter to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Hatta Rajasa, on Dec 20 asking for scheduled tariff reductions on 146 product lines to be delayed by one year.

The letter also asked for scheduled tariff reductions for a further 60 items to be delayed by two years and for 22 items to be delayed until 2018.

Mr Muhrodi told Reuters by phone that a final decision on whether Indonesia would forward those requests to Asean rested with Mr Rajasa but a spokesman for his office declined to comment.

Source: Reuters

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