ASEAN Economic Community and Its Challenge
Friedrich Naumann Stiftung for Freedom (FNF) Indonesia and Democrat Party Foreign Relations Division held a seminar titled “Indonesia and the Asean Economic Community: A Challenge” at the JW Marriott Hotel, Kuningan, Jakarta, Thursday, November 12, 2015. This seminar aims to provide complete and comprehensive information, not only about the challenges and solution, but also opportunities of the welcomed the enactment of MEA on December 31, 2015.
At the beginning of the seminar, the Secretary General of the Democratic Party Dr Hinca IP Pandjaitan opened the seminar with a remark that, MEA, which was signed in the era of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) government, needs to be treated in its implementation by increasing the productions in the country of Indonesia. The source of the state budget, in the next five years, it is not impossible can be obtained from the tourism sector services; given the variety of cultural of Indonesia will far exceed than the oil and gas or mining. Indonesia should play an advantage strategy toward MEA..
In the context of MEA, Hinca Panjaitan said that Indonesia culture can be the sector that Indonesia promotes. Local wisdom and creative economy are the assets that always growing every hour, every day and every moment, “he said.
With the spirit that Indonesia in ASEAN arena is no longer as a spectator or sidelines players sidelines, in the context of MEA Indonesia’s economy development should continue to be given attention. Democrats Party has a continued commitment to initiate MEA with all the challenges and opportunities.
The seminar was attended by several parties with different backgrounds. The participants are those who are concern and give attention to the MEA issue.
Several speakers gave their overview about MEA from the perspective of economy, trade and services, migrant workers, and others. The Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs represented by the ministry expert staff, Benito Rio Avianto, The Directorate General of Workers Employment of the Ministry of Manpower represented Maruli Hasiloan, The Directorate of Migrant Workers Protection affairs represented by Soes Hindharmo, representative from NGO’s Migrant Care, Wahyu Susilo, Budi Arie Setiadi (Chairman of PROJO-Jokowi’s volunteer group), and M. Husni Thamrin, representing the Foreign Relation Division of the Democrats Party.
Benito Rio Avianto explained, Indonesia in ASEAN has the largest area, population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), making it an important player in the MEA. Unfortunately exemption tariff rates of 0 percent have not been widely used by the domestic entrepreneurs. Now is become a “home work” how to optimize the Free Law of Services in MEA. AFAS (ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services) should increase the service sector in Indonesia.
Furthermore, Maruli Hasiloan explained about the Indonesian Manpower profile which 62% of them are junior high graduates in dominated. In the face of MEA there is main things to be prepared in related to the workers and migrants workers from Indonesia, so called the Indonesian National Qualifications Framework. This is not only for the domestic workers but also, especially, for migrant workers. The direction of migrant workers always follows the economic growth, so Indonesia has to prepare skilled and standard workers.
Meanwhile Budi Arie Setiadi from PROJO explains, things that should be foremost in the face of MEA is the national interest. MEA should anticipate comprehensively. Challenges are include how to deal with countries that are in MEA with other countries outside MEA. Any other agreements would have to base on national interest, both in the region, with the principle of reciprocity, especially in the finance sector and banking, He gave an example on how other countries in ASEAN should allow Indonesia national bank to open their branches as the same that Indonesia government allow the banking from ASEAN countries open their branches in Indonesia.
Wahyu Susilo from Migrant Care said ASEAN Economic Community should benefit for workers from Indonesia, especially migrant workers. The contribution of migrant workers should be clarified quantified in number and existing sectors. At the moment Indonesian migrant workers in general is not labor-certified but have remittances (sending money) very high to Indonesia. This is a real contribution for Indonesia development. In fact, ASEAN is a region that is vulnerable to migrant workers, still marked by the discovery of slavery practices in it. Therefore the scheme of protection of migrant workers should be entered in the ASEAN scheme as a safety valve, into a friendly area of migrant workers.
In line with previous opinion, Husni Thamrin said MEA should benefit for people and not the interests of individual or the professionals sector only. MEA should not just talk about skill workers but also a comparative advantage in the non-skill workers. Maintain pluralism and democracy along with socialization of MEA to the grass root level is very important to make the MEA owned by the people. The Democratic Party is committed to continue to socialize MEA to the grass root level for the interests of people of Indonesia and Democrats Party will gave instruction to the members of parliament of Democrats Party from national level to the region to put that into the national and regional development plan, said Husni Thamrin.
Muhammad Husni Thamrin – Program Officer FNF Indonesia