Indonesia pins hopes on UAE trade pact to open new export markets

Indonesia pins hopes on UAE trade pact to open new export markets
High-speed rail construction work proceeds on a portion of project to connect the capital cities of Jakarta and Bandung by bullet train. (AP)
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Updated 05 October 2022

Indonesia pins hopes on UAE trade pact to open new export markets

Indonesia pins hopes on UAE trade pact to open new export markets
  • Indonesia-UAE bilateral trade volume reached around $4 billion in 2021
  • Trade pact erases about 99 percent of existing tariffs, Indonesian ministry says

JAKARTA: Indonesia is hopeful that a wide-ranging economic pact with the UAE will open more markets in the Gulf region to the country’s exports, the Trade Ministry said on Tuesday, as officials aim to ratify the agreement by November.

Indonesia and the UAE signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in July, after talks aimed at eliminating tariffs and boosting investment between the two countries were launched in September 2021. The pact is Jakarta’s first with a Gulf country and Abu Dhabi’s first with a Southeast Asian nation.

Bilateral trade volume reached around $4 billion last year, according to Indonesian Trade Ministry data, showcasing an increase of nearly 38 percent from 2020, when it was worth $2.9 billion.

The agreement is still pending ratification by the Indonesian House of Representatives, which held a meeting this week with Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan to discuss the process in detail.

“IUAE-CEPA will benefit Indonesia because UAE will be Indonesia’s hub to tap new, very big markets,” Hasan said, as quoted by the ministry in a statement on Tuesday.

Through the agreement, he continued, the country’s goods, from jewelry and agricultural commodities to products from small and medium-sized enterprises, can enter Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Hasan said the pact is expected to boost Indonesian exports to the UAE by an annual average of 7.7 percent.

The pact erases about 99 percent of existing tariffs, the Trade Ministry said, and includes commitments to increase Indonesia’s services exports to the UAE by 6 percent and mutually recognize each country’s halal certification.

“We hope that Indonesia will ratify IUAE-CEPA before the upcoming meeting between the presidents of Indonesia and the UAE in Solo that is being planned for Nov. 17, 2022,” Hasan said.

The trade pact appears to be part of the Indonesian government’s strategy to attract more investment from the UAE, Yanuar Rizky, economist and chairman of Jakarta-based research company Bejana Investidata Globalindo, told Arab News.

“From what I’ve read, Indonesia is hoping that with the tariff cut and its becoming a trading hub, UAE investment will increase in Indonesia,” Rizky said.

“This is something that the Jokowi administration has continued to pursue,” he added, referring to Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s popular nickname.

Rizky said the effort is in line with ongoing attempts to attract foreign investors to fund the development of a $32 billion new capital city in Borneo, a project that saw Japan’s SoftBank withdraw its backing earlier this year.

UAE Ambassador to Indonesia Abdulla Salem Obaid Al-Dhaheri said in March that his country would invest in Indonesia’s new capital through an existing $10 billion funding commitment to the Indonesia Investment Authority.
 


EU proposal would send proceeds of frozen Russian funds to Ukraine

EU proposal would send proceeds of frozen Russian funds to Ukraine
Updated 7 sec ago

EU proposal would send proceeds of frozen Russian funds to Ukraine

EU proposal would send proceeds of frozen Russian funds to Ukraine
BRUSSELS: The European Commission proposed a plan on Wednesday to compensate Ukraine for damage from Russia’s invasion with proceeds from investing Russian funds frozen under sanctions.
Officials in the EU, United States and other Western countries have long debated whether Ukraine can benefit from frozen Russian assets, including around $300 billion of Russia’s central bank reserves and $20 billion held by blacklisted Russians.
Moscow says seizing its funds or those of its citizens amounts to theft.
“Russia must ... pay financially for the devastation that it caused,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU’s executive said in a statement.
“The damage suffered by Ukraine is estimated at 600 billion euros. Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for the damage and cover the costs for rebuilding the country.”
European Commission officials said that one short-term option for Western nations would be to create a fund to manage and invest liquid assets of the central bank, and use the proceeds to support Ukraine.
The assets would be returned to their owners when sanctions were lifted, which could be part of a peace agreement that ensured Ukraine received compensation for damages.
“It’s not easy so it will require strong backing from the international community but we believe it is doable,” one official said.
With regard to the frozen assets of private individuals and entities, seizing these is usually only legally possible where there is a criminal conviction.
The Commission has proposed that violations of sanctions could be classified as an offense that would allow confiscation.
Von der Leyen also said that the Commission was proposing the establishment of a specialized court, backed by the United Nations, “to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression.”
Moscow denies its invasion, which it calls a “special military operation,” constitutes aggression, a war crime under international law.

At least 16 killed, 24 wounded in north Afghanistan blast - local media

At least 16 killed, 24 wounded in north Afghanistan blast -  local media
Updated 30 November 2022

At least 16 killed, 24 wounded in north Afghanistan blast - local media

At least 16 killed, 24 wounded in north Afghanistan blast -  local media

KABUL: At least 16 people were killed and 24 others wounded Wednesday by a blast at a madrassa in Afghanistan's northern city of Aybak, a doctor at a local hospital said.

There have been dozens of blasts and attacks targeting civilians since the Taliban returned to power in August last year, most claimed by the local chapter of the Daesh group.

A doctor in Aybak, about 200 kilometres (130 miles) north of the capital Kabul, said the casualties were mostly youngsters.

“All of them are children and ordinary people,” he told AFP, asking not to be named.

The Taliban, which frequently plays down casualty figures, said 10 students had died and “many others” were injured.

“Our detective and security forces are working quickly to identify the perpetrators of this unforgivable crime and punish them for their actions,” tweeted Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafay Takor.

Images and video circulating on social media -- which could not immediately be verified -- showed Taliban fighters picking their way through bodies strewn across the floor of a building.

Prayer mats, shattered glass and other debris littered the scene.


US, Europe security body seeks ‘end to Ukraine war, rights atrocities’

US, Europe security body seeks ‘end to Ukraine war, rights atrocities’
Updated 30 November 2022

US, Europe security body seeks ‘end to Ukraine war, rights atrocities’

US, Europe security body seeks ‘end to Ukraine war, rights atrocities’
  • Upcoming OSCE meet critical, says American envoy
  • Nuclear escalation a ‘real and imminent danger’

WASHINGTON: The upcoming meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, will be critical to help end the war in Ukraine and the continuing human rights violations resulting from the conflict. 

This is the view of Michael Carpenter, the US’ permanent representative to the OSCE, who spoke to Arab News recently about the group’s annual ministerial council gathering in Lodz, Poland, from Dec. 1-2. 

Carpenter said OSCE officials are expected to discuss the expansion of the organization’s work to tackle issues including human trafficking and election monitoring. 

While strongly criticizing Russia for its role in the conflict, Carpenter said European nations have recently engaged with Moscow and Kyiv for a “de-escalation.” 

Carpenter’s comments come in the wake of US news outlets reporting in the last two weeks of a secret meeting between CIA Director Bill Burns and his Russian intelligence counterpart, Sergey Naryshkin, in Ankara, Turkey. The meeting was part of ongoing US efforts to “communicate with Russia on managing (the) risk” of possible nuclear escalation. 

A CIA spokesperson declined to provide comment to Arab News on the meeting, citing a lack of authorization to speak about the CIA director’s schedule. 

The OSCE has 57 participating states from Europe, Central Asia and North America and works to promote human rights and democratic governance through election monitoring and combating human trafficking. 

It functions as a forum for dialogue on global issues affecting member states and has 13 field missions in the Western Balkans, Central Asia and Moldova. A new office will soon be set up in Ukraine. 

Carpenter said that a new field mission called the Support Program for Ukraine was inaugurated on Nov. 1, funded by a “generous contribution” from the US and other voluntary support. 

“Through this new field presence, we intend to support projects that will contribute to enhancing the resilience of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, humanitarian demining (and) the mitigation of the environmental impacts of the war,” he said. 

The US delegation would be led by Victoria Nuland, America’s under-secretary of state for political affairs — joining representatives from the 57 OSCE participating states and 11 partner states.  

Carpenter said the most important topic of the upcoming meeting was the war in Ukraine. “The real story of the OSCE is not what has been said but what has been done.” 

He said the OSCE states take decisions based on consensus. It has three autonomous institutions — the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the High Commissioner on National Minorities.

“The OSCE has a number of special representatives who carry out work on extremely important issues like anti-corruption, countering trafficking in human beings, supporting gender equality, and promoting tolerance and non-discrimination,” he said. 

He said that in Tajikistan, for example, the OSCE supports women resource centers that provide the only government-sanctioned outlets for victims of domestic violence. They have access to legal aid, psychological support, and help with finding employment. 

“In the Western Balkans and Central Asia, our field missions support efforts to document and safeguard stockpiles of small arms and light weapons to enhance stability and security in many of these post-conflict societies.” 

Carpenter said that as a result of the war in Ukraine the OSCE put out information on the risks of human trafficking using an innovative public-private partnership that pushes the information to the smartphones of those most at risk. 


Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3
Updated 30 November 2022

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3
  • Taliban earlier announced an end to a shaky cease-fire with Islamabad and ordered nationwide attacks

QUETTA, Pakistan: Three people were killed and 23 injured Wednesday when a suicide bomber targeted a police truck in western Pakistan, an official said, an attack claimed by the domestic chapter of the Taliban.
The Pakistan Taliban — known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — are separate from the Taliban in Afghanistan but share a common hard-line Islamist ideology.
On Monday, the group announced an end to a shaky cease-fire with Islamabad declared over the summer and ordered nationwide attacks to resume.
Senior police official Azhar Mehesar told AFP the blast targeted a police team preparing to escort polio vaccinators in the city of Quetta and that those killed “include a policeman, a woman and a child.”
In a statement to AFP, the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack and said it would soon share further details.
The group was founded in 2007 by Pakistani jihadists who fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s before opposing Islamabad’s support for American intervention there after 9/11.
For a time they held vast tracts of Pakistan’s rugged tribal belt, imposing a radical interpretation of Islamic law and patrolling territory just 140 kilometers (85 miles) from the Pakistan capital.
The Pakistani military came down hard after 2014 when TTP militants raided a school for children of army personnel and killed nearly 150 people, most of them pupils.
Its fighters were largely routed into neighboring Afghanistan, but Islamabad claims the Taliban in Kabul are now giving the TTP a foothold to stage assaults across the border.
In the year since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, Pakistan has seen a 50 percent surge in militant attacks, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).
Most of these attacks have been focused in the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which neighbor Afghanistan.
The 2014 school assault deeply shocked Pakistan, and since then the TTP have vowed only to target state security forces.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only nations in the world where wild polio is still endemic.
Polio vaccination teams are routinely escorted by police in the western regions, and the TTP has made a habit of ambushing officers as they travel into those restive remote areas.
Pakistan officials on Monday launched a week-long immunization campaign aiming to inoculate over 13 million children living in “high-risk districts.”
In April, Pakistan reported its first case of polio in 15 months. Since then 20 cases have been reported, according to the government-funded End Polio Pakistan program.


Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries
Updated 30 November 2022

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries
  • It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature

SYDNEY: Australia’s parliament on Wednesday voted to censure former Liberal prime minister Scott Morrison after an inquiry found his secret appointment to multiple ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic undermined trust in government.
Morrison, who lost power in a general election in May, secretly accumulated five ministerial roles during the pandemic: health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs.
The historic motion, brought by the ruling Labor party, passed by 86 votes to 50 in the country’s lower house.
It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature.
“The fact is, that our democracy is precious,” Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said during the debate, speaking in favor of censuring Morrison.
“There’s no room for complacency.”
Morrison has said his decisions were lawful, and that the decision was necessary in case ministers became incapacitated during the pandemic.
“For those who wish to add their judgment today on my actions in supporting this censure motion, I simply suggest that they stop and consider the following: have you ever had to deal with a crisis where the outlook was completely unknown?,” Morrison said in parliament before the vote on Wednesday.
“In such circumstances, were you able to get all the decisions perfectly right?“
Morrison said he had only used the powers on one occasion, to block BPH Energy’s PEP-11 gas exploration project.
He accepted the recommendations of an inquiry into the appointment, including legislation requiring public notice of ministerial appointments.