The ASEAN free trade is not a threat but is a big opportunity."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) urged the government on Tuesday to prepare small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for regional integration under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) starting in 2015.

"Don`t let the market of our SMEs fall into the hands of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam when the ASEAN free market comes into effect," Kadin deputy chief for SMEs and cooperatives Erwin Aksa said in a written statement.

Indonesia must learn from the case of its free trade with China under the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), he said.

He noted that the government had frequently injected a number of incentives to SMEs apparently because they were not quite prepared for the ACFTA.

As a matter of fact, Indonesia had six years to make preparations for the free trade with China, he said.

However, the government and the business world could not use the time optimally, he said.

Earlier, Kadin chairman Suryo Bambang Sulisto said the ASEAN free market did not pose a threat but a big opportunity to integrate Indonesia with the global market.

"The ASEAN free trade is not a threat but is a big opportunity," he said responding to worries about Indonesia`s preparedness for the AEC.

It was reasonable to question the country`s preparedness since the government`s and the business world`s programs had shown no signs of integrated preparations for the AEC, he said.

According to World Economy Forum (WEF) data, Indonesia which ranked 46th in terms of competitiveness in 2011 was fourth only to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in the ASEAN region.

(Reporting by Muhammad Razi Rahman/S012/A014)

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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