2016 Diplomatic Offensive (part II) - Strengthening EU-ASEAN relations - EU monitor

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2016 Diplomatic Offensive (part II) - Strengthening EU-ASEAN relations

Source: Ph. (Phil) Hogan i, published on Thursday, November 10 2016.

Following my visit to Hong Kong and Vietnam I continued my diplomatic offensive in Indonesia this week. I was honoured to be the first European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development to visit this large, diverse and growing economy.

Today's EU-Indonesia trade for agriculture products is very important and could have even greater potential. Indonesian export is mainly driven by palm oil therefore diversification of products could certainly increase exports. The overarching goal in this context is to conclude an FTA with Indonesia to help to unlock this potential.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (CEPA) between the EU and Indonesia is currently being negotiated. CEPA would bring great opportunities for European agri-food businesses in this country. And Indonesian producers, in turn, would have access to the European market. Increasing trade with Europe will lead to increasing prosperity for the people of Indonesia.

In this light, I had fruitful discussions with Indonesia's Vice President and the Minister of Economic Coordination. I also met with Indonesia's Minister of Law on the protection and development of Geographical Indications (GI) for food products. One example of an Indonesian GI is 'Gayo Coffee,' and there is strong potential to develop many more. Cooperation in this area will also be part of the CEPA negotiations.

However, this visit was not only focussed on Indonesia, but also on the broader region of ASEAN, where agriculture plays a vital role in economic development.

At the beginning of the week I met with Indonesian farmers to discuss the challenges that family farms face in the ASEAN and EU regions - a topic I know well, having grown up on a family farm myself.

In Europe, just as in Asia, family farming is the most common operational farming model. If we want to maintain these structures, which serve our rural communities so well, it is essential to attract young people to work in farming as well as to build stronger systems for cooperation between farmers, both at home and abroad.

Family farms and small-scale farmers, left on their own, are often unable to effectively engage in modern business and market practices and they have limited access to new and more sustainable farming practices. For this reason, finding new and enhanced structures for farmers to cooperate at local, regional and international level are crucially important. And the family farm will be at the heart of all these plans. You can find more information in my speech here.

On the last day of the trade mission I gave the opening speech at the SIAL interfood exhibition, a major trade show dedicated to the food & beverage industry, attended by all of the major players in Indonesia’s retail, importing, distribution, foodservice and food manufacturing sectors.

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With Indonesian Minister for Economic Coordination Darmin Nasution.

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Opening speech at the SIAL interfood exhibition.