Kalla: US should question itself on trade imbalance

JAKARTA: The US Meat Export Federation has gone the extra mile to fly in a “butcher shop” packed with fresh cuts of prime beef and pork.

With its unique profile, the shop stood out at the Food and Hotel Indonesia fair at the Jakarta International Expo in Central Jakarta on Wednesday.

“US beef has been imported to Indonesia for over 20 years. In between, there were some stops due to some issues, but since last year, Indonesia has allowed the imports again,” said the federation’s Asean director, Sabrina Yin Foung May.

While promoting the quality of US beef compared to that sold in other countries, May stopped short of noting that the product was expensive and that only certain Indonesian consumers could easily afford it.

That premise has served as justification for Indonesian officials, who say uncompetitive US goods may in part explain the widening US deficit in trade with Indonesia.

US President Donald Trump last week called for an investigation into the “trade imbalance” between the US and 16 countries, including Indonesia.

Vice-president Jusuf Kalla said late on Tuesday that he could not accept Trump’s accusation that Indonesia was among “cheating foreign importers.”

“The US should introspect on why Indonesia imports less from them. It is because their goods are very expensive,” he said.

“They cannot insist on labelling us as cheas, because we never forced them to buy our goods in the first place.

“They import our goods because of the high quality and the competitive price.”

Kalla said the US, as a champion of free trade and capitalism, should not renege on the values it pioneered, adding that Indonesia’s trade with the US had always complied with the rules of fair play put in place by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Indonesia is in 15th place on Trump’s trade hit list, with a trade surplus of US$13bil (RM53.19mil) over the US, followed by Canada with a surplus of US$11bil (RM48.75mil).

China tops the list with a US$347bil (RM1.54bil) surplus, followed by Japan, Germany, Mexico, Ireland, Vietnam, Italy, South Korea, Malaysia, India, Thailand, France, Switzerland and Taiwan. — The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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