The European Union should agree to a free trade agreement with Indonesia as soon as possible, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after meeting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this week. Meanwhile, the United States and Taiwan have announced the resumption of trade talks next week, after negotiations stalled in 2007 following a Taiwanese ban on some US beef imports.
Indonesia, Asia and the EU
Speaking in Berlin after talks with Dr. Yudhoyono, Ms. Merkel said she would campaign for a free trade deal with Indonesia. "If Europe doesn't want to fall behind, and if Germany also wants to have its share of trade relations, then we need a free trade agreement."
Ms. Merkel added that if the EU establishes an FTA with Indonesia, it will be "an important component" of a future FTA with the entire Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The EU concluded FTA talks with Singapore in December, making the EU-Singapore FTA its first trade deal with a South-east Asian nation. The EU is pursuing agreements with individual ASEAN members as a stepping stone to a broader agreement.
At the joint news conference with Ms. Merkel, Dr. Yudhoyono also urged the EU to help kickstart the slowing global economy.
Report: Indonesian president urges EU to boost economy [Channel NewsAsia (AFP), 6 Mar 2013]
US and Taiwan
The US and Taiwan are holding two-day discussions beginning on Monday in Taiwan. The two sides signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in 1994, but the dialogue process was suspended in 2007 due to controversy over US beef imports.
Taiwan banned US beef containing ractopamine, a drug used in animal feed to promote lean meat. But in July 2012, Taiwan lifted its restrictions.
The agenda for talks has not been settled yet, but Taiwan would like to discuss a potential US-Taiwan FTA, as well as Taiwan's possible inclusion into the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional agreement that the US is negotiating with Pacific countries, including Singapore.
The US is currently Taiwan's third largest trade partner.
Report: MOEA to push for liberal trade, TPP entry in TIFA negotiations [China Post, 7 Mar 2013]