Statement by the U.S. Representative
11 December 2020
The United States would like to thank Indonesia’s Vice Minister of Trade Jerry Sambuaga, the discussant Ambassador Villalobos and the rest of the delegation for their participation on Day 1, and for their efforts to prepare for the Trade Policy Review (TPR).
That said, the United States notes that Indonesia did not submit their questions to the TPRD until 10:00 am on Day One of the TPR. As a result, Indonesia’s replies to advanced written questions were not released to Members until after the end of Day One’s discussion, significantly reducing the time allotted to pose follow-up questions. As was noted in this morning’s opening statement, Indonesia has responded to only three quarters of the questions posed by Members, falling short of our expectations of any Member under review in the TPRB. We note that Indonesia is the second ASEAN Member in short order to fail to respond to Member’s questions, we hope that there is not a false understanding within ASEAN that the TPR question and response process is optional.
Moreover, the United States would also like to point out that, in many cases, Indonesia did not sufficiently respond to the questions that had been submitted. We would like to highlight some of those instances, and we urge Indonesia to fully address these matters today and in response to Members’ follow-up questions.
For example, the United States asked Indonesia to provide a timeline on when it plans to notify the WTO on TRIMs, pre-shipment inspection, and quantitative restrictions, which are still outstanding. We also asked for an explanation as to why 116 notifications notified to the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures were implemented before the 60-day period for comments had closed.
Indonesia’s responses gave no indication of when their outstanding notifications would be made nor did they explain why so many measures were implemented before the comment period had closed. We ask Indonesia to fulfill its transparency obligations in these areas and notify future relevant measures and regulations in a timely manner.
We are concerned that measures adopted by Indonesia to stimulate the growth of particular local industries risk having serious negative impacts in global markets. In the steel sector, for example, ongoing measures are causing distortions in the global price of a key steelmaking ingredient of which Indonesia is a major supplier, while artificially promoting increased Indonesian production and exports of steel at a time of already massive global oversupply.
We also note that many WTO Members, in addition to the United States, have voiced concerns about Indonesia’s local content requirements (LCR). Again, many of Indonesia’s responses to such questions did not address what had been asked. We were disappointed to learn that, despite the broad concern among WTO Members about this topic, Indonesia indicated that it had no plans to remove any of the LCR regulation in the near future. We remind Indonesia of the long-standing and predominately negative evidence of the impact of LCRs on economic development and trade. We urge the Government to carefully examine its obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMs), reconsider the measures that have been flagged by Members, and promptly and fully respond to questions posed to it during the TPR, in the TRIMs committee and the Committee for Trade in Goods.
We reiterate our desire to see Indonesia fully embrace trade and economic liberalization and to reconsider its pursuit of agricultural self-sufficiency and associated import-restricting policies. As we mentioned on Day One, such policies can have unintended and negative impacts on food security, nutrition, and economic opportunity, particularly for a country’s most vulnerable populations. We will continue to engage Indonesian representatives, here in Geneva and in
Jakarta, to resolve our concerns in these areas. We look forward to close cooperation with Indonesia bilaterally and at the WTO in this regard.
Lastly, we call on Indonesia, once more, to no longer seek special and differential treatment in current and future WTO negotiations, and we stress the significance this decision would have on ensuring that the WTO remains a viable forum for meaningful trade negotiations.
Again, we thank the delegation of Indonesia for their participation in this review, and we thank the Secretariat and the Discussant for their valuable support and insights.