Indonesia, the largest producer of nickel ore, wants to find a “win-win solution” on exporting mineral ore to Japan which said it may complain to the World Trade Organisation if negotiations fail.
“We are in intensive communication with them,” Bayu Krisnamurthi, Indonesia’s vice minister of trade, said today in an interview in Hong Kong. “I’m optimistic we’ll find a way to solve this problem.”
Indonesia said May 3 it would rein in exports of 14 minerals including nickel, copper, gold and iron ore from May 6 to boost local processing. Japan may file an objection with the WTO should Indonesia proceed with a complete ban on exports as planned in 2014, Takayuki Ueda, a director-general of Japan’s trade ministry, said last month.
“Indonesia would like to come up in the supply chain ladder to try to get some value added in their resources,” and that will remain as a policy, Krisnamurthi said.
Japan’s imports of nickel ore from Indonesia jumped 81 percent in May from a year earlier, finance ministry data showed, as buyers stepped up purchases before shipments were curbed.
Japan imported 3.65 million metric tonnes of nickel ore in 2011, according to finance ministry data. Indonesia supplied 1.95 million tonnes, or 53 percent, followed by New Caledonia with 27 percent and the Philippines with 19 percent, the data show.
“Fighting against Indonesia is not Japan’s objective,” Ueda said last month. “We’d like to seek solutions through dialogue.”
Indonesia’s tax and restrictions on ore shipments may cut nickel-ore supplies from the country by as much as 20 percent in the second half from a year earlier, according to Aneka Tambang, the nation’s second-largest producer and 65 percent- owned by the government as of March.
The country would be “satisfied” with flat export growth this year given the uncertainty in the European economies, Krisnamurthi said.
“We already see the downturn of Indonesian exports” even without the new policies on mineral ore, he said.