JAKARTA: Indonesia’s date importers and distributors have welcomed their government’s decision to apply zero tariffs for Palestinian dates and olive oil entering the Indonesian market.
“This is a very good move to support the Palestinian economy,” said Zaharuddin Ahmad, the owner of Aceh-based Humairah Trading, which imports dates from the Middle East.
“But to make it (successful) here, it will also depend on the quality of the product and whether it is in line with our marketing plan.”
Mujiburahman, owner of date-distribution company Parsia Humaira, based in Riau province, said his company has seen emerging demand for dates from Palestine and had been looking for an opportunity to import goods from there.
“It has been difficult to find Palestinian dates,” he told Arab News. “So this is a good move and comes at the right moment, given the current consumer emotions on the Palestine solidarity issue and that we would be supporting the Palestinian economy.”
Trade Minister Enggatiasto Lukita said in a press conference on Wednesday that he and his Palestinian counterpart had signed a memorandum of understanding that will grant zero import tariff for certain goods between the two countries starting in early 2018.
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Dec. 12.
Lukita said he had asked his Palestinian counterpart to draw up a list of priority products that Indonesia can export to Palestine, while Indonesia would do the same in regards to Palestinian goods.
Indonesian Ambassador to Palestine Andy Rachmianto told journalists earlier this month that Palestine has listed 20 goods to be included in the zero tariff policy.
Indonesia’s Director General for International Trade Negotiations Iman Pambagyo told Arab News that the zero tariff policy — previously set at 5 percent — would initially be applied to Palestinian dates and olive oil by the end of January.
“We have been importing dates from other Middle Eastern countries and California in the United States. We are now giving this preference to Palestinian dates so that they will have a market share in Indonesia,” Pambagyo said.
Trade Ministry’s Director General of Foreign Trade Oke Nurwan told Arab News that the government is in the process of issuing a presidential regulation that would serve as a legal basis for this policy.
Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the policy is intended to “empower the Palestinian economy.”
Lukita also stressed that Indonesia supports Palestine’s application to become a member of the WTO and that Indonesia will assist Palestine with that process.
Indonesia has been a staunch supporter of Palestinian independence and was one of the co-sponsors of the UN General Assembly emergency meeting on Thursday to reject America’s recent unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.