EU-Indonesia trade negotiations: The EU must show leadership on animal protection


EU-Indonesia trade negotiations: The EU must show leadership on animal protection

23 February 2018
From frogs and reptiles to chickens and apes, Indonesia is home to a tremendous amount of biodiversity.

Many of these animals suffer from destruction of their natural habitats or from their own exploitation for economic purposes – or both. A lack of attention to them in the future EU-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement could only intensify these problems. This week the EU and Indonesia held the fourth round of their trade negotiations in Solo, Indonesia. The negotiations with Indonesia, which started in the context of EU-ASEAN talks in 2007, have intensified since Jokowi took office as Prime Minister of the archipelago, in October 2014. The EU believes that they only have a narrow window of opportunity to conclude this deal, which increases the time pressure on the talks.

Indonesia’s great animals

The situation of orangutans and gibbons is probably the most well-known. The great and lesser apes are nowadays only present in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo but they are facing great danger due to the loss of their natural habitat resulting from deforestation. Yet, they are not the only ones at risk.

Reptiles and frogs also face threats to their survival. Frogs’ legs are surprisingly the main meat product exported from Indonesia to the EU, and reptile skin represents a subsequent part of the EU imports of animal-based products. In addition, while Indonesia does not export these products to the EU, it is among the top ten producers of eggs and chicken meat, meaning it exploits billions of chicken in its farms.

The trade in animal-based products between the EU and Indonesia has grown over the last decade. It is vital that both partners start considering more seriously the impact that any agreement can have on the animals, and on sustainable development in general. An EU-Indonesia trade agreement needs to ensure that animals and their habitats will be better protected.

Current language lacks ambition

So far, the relevant language contained in the EU’s proposals terribly lacks ambitions. It only mentions the objective of “enhancing collaboration on animal welfare”, miles away from what has been offered to other recent negotiating partners like Mexico and Mercosur. Even the text agreed in 2016 with Vietnam – a more alike country –  had a bit more flesh with a mention of capacity-building and technical assistance in the field. In addition, the EU’s proposal on Trade and Sustainable Development does not yet include stronger enforcement provisions. As these texts represent the position from which the EU starts negotiating, it is quite worrying.

An opportunity for animals

The trade negotiations, as well as the structures that such trade agreement can establish, present a vital opportunity to discuss with Indonesia the enforcement of CITES-related rules to better protect endangered species, apes and reptiles alike, and more ambitions on conservation. If trade is really about projecting European values, trade liberalisation should at any cost avoid more animals suffering but promotes a better fate for all living creatures.

Read the longer briefing here


Stephanie Ghislain, Trade & Animal Welfare Project leader,
Tel: +32 (0)2 740 08 96, Email:

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