Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the regions reject free trade agreement between ASEAN and the European Union (EU).

A press release issued by Indonesia NGOs for Global Justice (IGJ) here said on Saturday trade negotiations underway between the two regional groupings is a "wrong step."

The IGJ said in its written statement the free trade pact being negotiated by the two regional groups will widen the economic gap and would degrade the rights of the people in the ASEAN region.

In addition to IGJ, the news release was also signed by other members of "EU-ASEAN Network" which grouped includes Focus on the Global South, FTA Watch-Thailand, Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization (MSN), and Trade Justice of Philippines.

They said the reasons for the postponement of free trade agreement between ASEAN-UE in 2009 was that the EU wants a more ambitious and comprehensive one.

The EU wants a number of clauses allowing corporations to file a lawsuit against the government through a third party court and regulation making it difficult for the community to have access to medicines with prices within their reach.

Therefore, the EU-ASEAN Network hopes that in facing the trade negotiations, southeast Asian countries should work together to address the interest of poor and marginalized communities in the region.

Earlier, Indonesian environmentalists Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (Walhi) urged the government of Indonesia and the European Union Commission to scrap the oil palm issue from the agenda of the negotiations of Indonesia-EU Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

The manager for climate and justice campaign of Yuyun Harmono said here on Friday that the oil palm issue has to be excluded from the negotiation as it has to be discussed in the context of humanity, particularly related to protection of the environment and human rights.

Yuyun said the oil palm issue could not be resolved in the trade negotiations between Indonesia and the EU under CEPA, adding, investment trade agreements would worsen the environment and the peoples social condition.

The government has pushed for international cooperation agreement -- bilateral or multilateral - in a bid to increase Indonesian exports especially exports of commodities other than oil and gas.

The government has set target for export growth at 5.6 percent this year. Industry Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said on Wednesday that Indonesia is seeking to sign 16 international agreements,including four to be signed shortly.

The four agreements include Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Iran, Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), European Free Trade Association (EFTA) CEPA and bilateral agreement with Chile and Peru.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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