Minister accuses Australia of using Indonesia only as market

Minister accuses Australia of using Indonesia only as market

Suswono. (ANTARA/Wahyu Putro A.)

After all, Indonesia is an attractive market."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Australia considers Indonesia no more than a market where it can sell its agricultural commodities, according to Agriculture Minister Suswono.

Addressing an Indonesian Farmers Council (Patani) meeting at his office here on Tuesday, the minister said Australia had promised to invest in Indonesia, particularly in the animal husbandry sector, at an investment forum held in that country, which was attended by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

However, Suswono pointed out, the promise had yet to be fulfilled.

The minister stated he had visited Darwin in 2010 to follow up on the meeting, in which seven Australian companies had pledged to invest in Indonesia.

"But those promises have not been kept. It seems as if Australia only wishes to use Indonesia as a market. After all, Indonesia is an attractive market," he continued.

Suswono noted that there was no indication so far from Australia that it would keep its promise of making investments in Indonesia.

"They use the excuse that Indonesia does not offer the necessary supporting infrastructure for them to invest here," he said.

At the meeting, titled "Agribusiness` Readiness to Meet AFTA 2015," the minister said the ASEAN free trade era will begin by December 2015.

After that, he continued, the ASEAN region will become a free trade market, in which ASEAN member countries can trade in agricultural products free of duties.

"The agricultural sector will also benefit from the free trade market. We must be involved in it because we are part of the international community," Suswono said.

The minister noted that the proposal of making ASEAN a free trade area was launched in 1992. Therefore, he said, Indonesia will only have itself to blame if it cannot get ready to conduct free trade by 2015.

"We must face it: Indonesia can only succeed by improving its competitiveness in regional as well as international markets," Suswono added.

(Reporting by Subagyo/H-YH/INE/KR-BSR/S012)

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