Indonesia to allow tariff-free import of Palestinian dates, olive oil

A Palestinian woman picks pineapples at a farm in Khan Yunis. Palestine and Indonesia have signed an MoU allowing for zero import tariffs on certain goods between the two countries. (Getty Images)
Updated 07 August 2018
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Indonesia to allow tariff-free import of Palestinian dates, olive oil

  • The initial Palestinian products that will be exempted from import tariffs are fresh and dried dates and virgin olive oil
  • Indonesia Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita: Policy is part of Indonesia’s unwavering support for the Palestinian issue, which has always been the focus of its foreign policy.

JAKARTA: Indonesia and Palestine have signed an agreement that will allow for zero tariffs on some Palestinian goods imported into Indonesia from next month.

The agreement is a follow-up to the Memorandum of Understanding that Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita and his Palestinian counterpart signed on the sidelines of the 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last December. The MoU allows zero import tariffs for certain goods between the two countries.

“It will be one-way trade from Palestine to Indonesia at the start, but we expect in the future it will be a two-way trade,” the Trade Ministry’s Director General for International Trade Negotiations Iman Pambagyo told Arab News.

The initial Palestinian products that will be exempted from import tariffs are fresh and dried dates and virgin olive oil. Pambagyo said that, during the first year of the agreement, dates imported from Palestine are estimated to increase by 11.62 percent, while olive oil is estimated to jump by 172 percent, as a lot of Indonesian cosmetic manufacturers use olive oil as an ingredient in their products.

“We will encourage our importers to benefit from this policy by sourcing their olive oil and dates from Palestine,” Pambagyo added.

Fachry Thaib, head of the Middle East Committee at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, said the business community welcomed the agreement and its upcoming implementation.

“We have always encouraged the government to expedite the MoU implementation. This policy would be beneficial for importers since it would make the products more competitive in the domestic market,” he told Arab News.

He said the policy will not hit other imported goods, given the big market opportunities for dates, which are widely consumed by Indonesians.

Lukota and Palestinian Ambassador to Indonesia Zuhair Al-Shun signed the agreement on Monday following the ratification of the MoU into a presidential regulation in April.

The finance minister will allow the MoU to fully take effect by issuing two ministerial regulations — on import tariff waivers for Palestinian products and on the technical direction for customs offices to execute the policy.

Pambagyo said these regulations will be circulated to all ports of entry so that customs officers can identify products from Palestine and exempt them from any import duties.

Lukita said this policy was part of Indonesia’s unwavering support for the Palestinian issue, which has always been the focus of its foreign policy.

“This is in accordance to President Joko Widodo’s instruction to facilitate what the Palestinian people need and for us to import their products,” Lukita told a press conference after signing the agreement.

“It shows that Indonesia also supports Palestine through trade, not just through [foreign] policy,” Lukita added.

Apart from dates and olive oil, Lukita said Indonesia will welcome other goods from Palestine and will also export Indonesian goods to Palestine.

“But we are still waiting from the Palestinian side the list of goods that they need from us,” he said.

Al-Shun said the policy will help to empower the Palestinian economy. “We hope this cooperation will continue to strengthen ties between Indonesia and Palestine, especially on trade,” he said through an interpreter.

Data from the Central Statistics Agency showed that, as of May this year, total trade between the two countries had reached $1.62 million, with a $195,500 surplus for Indonesia. Total trade between the two countries in 2017 was valued at $2.39 million, which consisted entirely of non-oil and gas commodities. Indonesia’s exports to Palestine last year totalled $2.05 million, while its sole import from Palestine was dates, which were valued at $341,000.

Indonesia has been a staunch supporter of Palestinian independence and has pledged to focus on voicing support for Palestine during its tenure as a non-permanent member at the UN Security Council in 2019-2020.


Brazil front-runner accused of illegal campaign practices

Bolsonaro said Haddad’s campaign was trying to change the subject. (AFP)
Updated 20 min 51 sec ago
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Brazil front-runner accused of illegal campaign practices

  • Businessmen linked to Bolsonaro allegedly bankrolled the spread of fake news on the WhatsApp messaging service to benefit his candidacy
  • Bolsonaro said any support of businessmen was voluntary

SAO PAULO: A Brazilian presidential candidate on Thursday accused his far-right adversary of illegal campaign practices for allegedly allowing friendly businessmen to secretly pay to spread slanderous messages.
The accusations by left-leaning Fernando Haddad follow a report published by the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo saying businessmen linked to Congressman Jair Bolsonaro allegedly bankrolled the spread of fake news on the WhatsApp messaging service to benefit his candidacy. The article said a blast message campaign was planned for the week before the Oct. 28 runoff.
In a series of tweets, Bolsonaro, who is the front-runner in opinion polls, said any support of businessmen was voluntary. Gustavo Bebbiano, the chairman of Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party, denied receiving illegal donations.
“Every donation made until this day, no matter if it is our party or our candidate’s campaign, comes from resources donated to our platform, accordingly with legislation,” Bebbiano said
Haddad, who was hand-picked by jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said he has leads for the federal police to follow, but did not reveal names. He later asked Brazil’s top court to start an investigation, and he said he might take the case to the Organization of American States.
“There has been a criminal organization of businessmen which used illegal campaign financing to promote this candidacy and tamper with the election in the first round (on Oct. 7). And they want to do it again in the runoff,” Haddad said. “We estimate that hundreds of thousands of messages, all fake, were sent to voters to suggest they voted for my rival.”
Paying for the blast-messaging, if true, could be a violation of Brazil’s campaign finance laws since companies are barred from giving money to candidates, electoral lawyer Erick Pereira said.
“But there is still need for robust evidence, which is not here at this moment,” Pereira added.
The Folha article mentioned businessman Luciano Hang, who owns the Havan department store, as one of the contributors. It also mentioned a handful of marketing companies that allegedly received money to do the blast messaging.
In an emailed statement, the Havan chain said the newspaper “published fake news with a clear ideological slant,” adding it would sue over the article.
At Yacows, an Internet marketing service mentioned in the article, a person answered the phone and said there would be no comment because the company did not engage in spreading messages.
The other companies mentioned in the article didn’t answer their phones Thursday afternoon.
In his tweet, Bolsonaro said Haddad’s campaign was trying to change the subject.
“The Workers’ Party is not being affected by fake news, it is affected by the truth,” Bolsonaro wrote. “They stole the population’s money, were arrested, confronted the judiciary, disrespected families and made the country sink into violence and chaos.”
On Thursday, a Datafolha poll said Bolsonaro keeps a comfortable advantage over Haddad, with 59 percent support against his adversary’s 41 percent. The polling firm said it interviewed 9,137 voters Wednesday and Thursday and the poll had a margin of error of two percentage points.