Indonesian date importers welcome zero tariff policy on Palestinian goods

Palestinian dates. (Photo courtesy: YouTube screengrab)
Updated 22 December 2017

Indonesian date importers welcome zero tariff policy on Palestinian goods

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.

Saudi Arabia, UAE form joint panel to enforce Yemen cease-fire

Updated 38 min 57 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, UAE form joint panel to enforce Yemen cease-fire

  • The panel is tasked to ensure that all the ceasefire procedures are followed

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had formed a joint panel to help enforce a cease-fire between government and separatist forces in the Yemeni provinces of Shabwah and Abyan, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said on Monday.

Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman of the coalition supporting Yemen's legitimate government, said the panel is tasked to ensure that all the ceasefire procedures are followed.

A joint statement issued early Monday by the Saudi and UAE foreign ministries stressed the urgency of enforcing a cease-fire and for the return of the civilian headquarters in Aden to the legitimate government under the supervision of coalition forces.

"The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in line with their responsibility to support the legitimacy of Yemen in order to save Yemen and its people from the coup of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, emphasize the continuation of all their political, military, relief and development efforts with the participation of the coalition countries that rose to support the Yemeni people," the statement said.

The separatist forces of the so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared last month that it was breaking away from the UN-recognized legitimate government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which is based in the southern city of Aden.

The Hadi government made Aden its temporary capital in 2015 after being pushed out of the capital, Sanaa, jointly by the Houthi militia and forces of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. 

The Hadi government was restored to power by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition and together with the STC forces they fought the combined forces of Saleh and the Houthis. The Houthis and Saleh's forces eventually fought each other, culminating in the killing of Saleh in December 2017.

Last month, STC forces seized key government installations and military camps in Aden as well as in Shabwa and Abyan.

The STC partially withdrew last week from key sites it occupied in Aden under pressure from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but it retains control of key military sites. The STC has since driven government troops out of two military camps in Abyan province.

On Saturday, government troops took control of the city of Ataq, capital of Shabwa province, after two days heavy fighting with the separatists.