The next round of negotiations for a free trade
agreement between the EU and Indonesia start today in Solo, Indonesia. Civil
society organisations from Europe and Indonesia, including Friends of the
Earth Europe and Friends of the Earth Indonesia, will meet in parallel to
discuss the consequences of a potential agreement.
Friends of the Earth Europe today released a
statement during a press conference in Jakarta signed by over 50 civil society
organisations and trade unions from Europe and Indonesia, setting out demands
in relation to the negotiations.
Palm oil remains one of the most controversial
elements of the negotiations. The
commodity has been the most important driver of deforestation and increasing
carbon emissions in Indonesia. The EU is already the second largest importer of
palm oil worldwide and a possible free trade agreement is expected to increase
the imports of Indonesian palm oil to Europe. 
A new study commissioned by Friends of the Earth
Europe documents the
abject failure of the current certification schemes to ensure sustainable
production of palm oil.
Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The production of palm oil
in Indonesia is causing tremendous environmental, social, human rights and
labour problems. Existing voluntary certification schemes have proven to be a
false solution. A trade agreement that would increase imports to Europe would
only worsen problems and should therefore not be part of any deal."
The agreement is also envisaged to include clauses
allowing foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals if
laws or regulations threaten their expected profits. After being repeatedly
sued by mining companies, Indonesia terminated a number of international
agreements that give investors the right to sue. The new free trade agreement
would lock in VIP for foreign investors in Indonesia and the EU.
 85% of all palm oil is produced in Indonesia and
Malaysia (with Indonesia at more than 50% of global production). In Indonesia
palm oil planted areas have increased with 600% between 1990 and 2010, covering
8,4 million hectare (2,75 x Belgium). The EU is third biggest consumer of palm
oil in the world (after Indonesia and India) and second biggest importer (after