RCEP and Indonesia: Economic Reform and Prospects for Implementation
The conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is very important for Indonesia as it may bring many benefits to the country. This paper is an attempt to see the role of domestic political-economy dynamics in facilitating and constraining Indonesia’s decision to join, ratify, and implement a free trade agreement (FTA). It also seeks some understanding on whether an FTA can bring significant market liberalisation. This paper focuses on two areas of observation. First, it discusses the current progress of the legislative process and public acceptance of the RCEP agreement in Indonesia and how the process is influenced by the political-economy dynamics of the country. Second, the paper also looks at the potential impacts of the agreement on Indonesia’s current reform agenda, especially the recently passed Jobs Creation Law (Law No. 11/2020). For these observations, we conduct a content analysis on RCEP-related news published in two newspapers in Indonesia, namely Kompas and the Jakarta Post. In addition to content analysis, we also conducted interviews with stakeholders, including parliament members and government officials from the Ministry of Trade who have been actively involved in RCEP negotiations and the ratification process. The paper provides some remarks and recommendations for the future agenda of RCEP ratification and implementation in Indonesia.