Indonesia Sets Eyes On New Palm Oil Markets During BRI Forum

Jusuf Kalla and Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla before the bilateral meeting of the Second Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China April 25, 2019. (Photo: Andrea Verdelli/Pool via REUTERS)

Indonesia has started setting eyes on potential markets for its massive palm oil produce as the European Union (EU) prepares to largely cut orders from the country. The recently wrapped Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum helped with this goal.

According to the Jakarta Globe, the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing allowed for Indonesia to showcase its palm oil industry to potential buyers outside of the EU. With 37 heads of state in attendance, the conference was a suitable place for the Southeast Asian nation to leverage on the opportunity.

Spokesman for Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arrmanatha Nasir, said the Indonesian government used China's Belt and Road Forum to give leaders a look into the significance of palm oil as a driver in the country's economy.

In Indonesia, around 16 million palm oil farmers depend on selling the commodity outside of the country for their livelihood. The nation's palm oil industry is a living hope for agriculture dealers to alleviate themselves from poverty.

Arrmanatha also said that Indonesia will continue to work with Malaysia and other countries affected by the EU's plan to thwart the scheme of cutting palm oil exports.

During the Leaders Roundtable in Beijing, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla raised the issue on campaigns that aimed to bring down his country's palm oil industry. He said the move to cut palm oil exports was a "discriminatory measure" that puts a stumbling block to the government's initiative of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Kalla said discrimination was based on concerns about the commodity's sustainability. However, he noted that palm oil producing countries like Indonesia have been hard at work in addressing sustainability-related issues.

Also during the Belt and Road Forum, Indonesia was among the countries who agreed to enhance cooperation with other nations on the energy sector. Under the Belt and Road Energy Partnership (BREP), participating countries agreed to promote clean energy and infrastructure connectivity.

Aside from the BRI Forum serving as a platform for Indonesia to highlight its palm oil produce, the conference also paved the way for new deals to be signed between China and Indonesia.

The South China Morning Post reported that Indonesia's investment minister Tom Lembong said it is "highly encouraging" to see China openly receive feedback regarding how it could further improve its Belt and Road Initiative.

Lembong said he believes the BRI will "stimulate additional investment in probably tens of billions of dollars" while ensuring that the projects signed between China and Indonesia are of the highest quality.

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