Institute of International Studies (IIS), International Relations Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada (DIHI-UGM) in collaboration with Centre for Policy Analysis and Development on American and European Regions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (P2K2 Amerop Kemlu) organizes Foreign Policy Review Forum on The Development of Economic and Trade Relationship between Indonesia-Mercosur: Political Economy Perspective. The forum was held in Seminar Timur Room, Faculty of Social and Political Science (Fisipol) UGM on Friday (11/5). The event was also co-organized by Sociedad Indonesia para America Latina (SIpAL), a student body union in Fisipol UGM for those interested in Latin America studies.
The forum, attended by academics, businessmen, students, and local bureaucrats; discusses about opportunities and challenges in intensifying Indonesia’s cooperation with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay; which are members of Mercado Común del Sur (Mercosur). Dr. Nur Rahmat Yuliantoro as the Head of International Relations Department UGM opened the forum, while Leonard F. Hutabarat, Ph. D, the Head of P2K2 Amerop Kemlu, acted as the moderator.
Dr. Riza Noer Arfani, lecturer of DIHI-UGM, said that strategic potential of Mercosur as Indonesia’s trading partner could still be improved. Currently the cooperation between the two could considered as less significant. As an expert of America Latin studies and Political Economy, he said that government’s collaboration with businessmen has become crucial to develop polic that is beneficial for both sides. Therefore, augmentation in garment sector, agriculture, or even traditional commodity could work even better. On the other hand, businessmen also need to be supported to join the global network.
The second speaker, Virdiana Ririen Hapsari, Deputy Director for American and European Intra-Regional Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the government is optimistic to work together between Indonesia and Mercosur. The government has done efforts to promote Indonesian products through various business exposition abroad. Those exhibitions help Indonesian stakeholder to comprehend consumer interest on Indonesian products. Other than that, Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also conducted overseas visits and attending international business and economic forum or to conduct business matchmaking. Beyond the government’s efforts, Hapsari underlined that private sector, academics and society involvements are still needed to enhance Indonesian trade cooperation with Mercosur.
The third session led by Ir. Sri Nastiti Budianti, M.Si., Head of the Center for International Trade Cooperation (Kepala Pusat Pengkajian Kerja Sama Perdagangan Internasional), Ministry of Trade. Sri said that cost and benefits analysis should be conducted before cooperation is agreed upon. There needs to be deeper lobbying and negotiation process regarding agreement upon tariff of export–import commodities between Indonesia and Brazil. To date, Indonesia implements 0% tariff on imported commodities from Mercosur. Yet only 6.1% of Indonesia’s exported commodities is free from tariff in Mercosur. Liberalization on trading by abolishing tariff and reducing Non–Tariff Measures is needed if Indonesia is expecting to increase its export volume in Mercosur.
Aside from the Foreign Policy Review Forum’s event, SIpAl initiates several activities in the form of movie screeningon a Brazilian movie The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (original title: O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias) and exhibition themed The Colors of Brazil on Wednesday, 9th May 2018. The 2006-film captures socio-political situation of Brazil in the 1970s, where numerous abduction of activists by authoritarian military government took place.
Writer: Alifiandi Rahman Yusuf, Ika Rizky Fauziah Abdullah, Alifa Ardhyasavitri
Editor: Nurhawira Gigih Pramono & Imas Indra Hapsari