Letter to the editor: EU ambassador to Indonesia replies

In its Nov. 7 edition, The Jakarta Post published an article by Mr. Thompson Ayodele caricaturing the EU as “Fortress Europe” because of the EU Common Agricultural Policy. The reality is different.

Only last December at the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, the EU led the way in eliminating export subsidies for developed world producers, a practice which was damaging the interests of developing world farmers.

In fact, the EU had already unilaterally ended the practice of export subsidies, showing global leadership in the interests of developing country producers, in line with our commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals, and now the Sustainable Development Goals.

The EU is for instance the second-largest market for Indonesia’s palm oil exports, second only to India. EU palm oil imports from Indonesia account for more than €3 billion (US$3.2 billion) per year. Half of Indonesian palm oil exports to the EU enter duty free, the other half at a low rate.

During his three-day visit to Indonesia, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan had the privilege of meeting Vice President Jusuf Kalla as well as several Cabinet ministers and attending a number of events, including a rich engagement with Indonesian farmers at the ASEAN Foundation, to share experiences on how to strengthen the position of ASEAN farmers in the food chain.

The visit was an occasion to see how to boost bilateral trade in food and agricultural products and investments in Indonesia. Commissioner Hogan was accompanied by a delegation of 38 European business representatives. The visit was also an occasion to say that the recognition by the EU of Gayo coffee as a “geographical indication” was on the right track. This quality label will allow Gayo coffee to find even more customers in the European market, the largest in the world for coffee.

Coming from a small farm in rural Ireland, commissioner Hogan is passionate on both a personal and professional level about advancing the interests of farmers and rural people the world over.

Vincent Guerend
EU Ambassador to Indonesia

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