Indonesia’s President Jokowi has called on EU leaders to rescind the bloc’s controversial deforestation regulation (EUDR) at the recent G20 meeting in India.

The President made the call when meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and discussing the country’s climate ambitions, and a transition to renewable energy under the Just Energy Transition Partnership.

According to Indonesian English-language media, Jokowi said:

“I hope that the Netherlands can support the development of low-carbon technology and the conversion of steam power plants to renewable energy as a follow-up to the JETP cooperation, and encourage the abolition of EUDR so it does not discriminate against Indonesia’s main commodities.”

Jokowi also made the same request to Italian leaders, with the comments appearing on official government websites.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, when elaborating on the high-level request, said that Indonesia also “request[s] that the benchmarking process be carried out transparently.”

There are concerns among Indonesia and other exporting nations that the process of classifying nations as high, standard or low risk for deforestation will effectively take place behind closed doors.

The President’s call comes at the same time that a group of exporting nations – including Indonesia – have released a letter to the EU Commission, Council and Parliament, requesting that the EU consider the impact of the regulation on developing countries.

The letter calls on the EU to:

  • Engage in a more meaningful and open dialogue with producing countries than what has been ventured so far.
  • Acknowledge the efforts made by producing countries to improve their livelihood and sustainability practices as well as the significant challenges faced by them regarding limited access to financing schemes, new technologies, and technical training and assistance.
  • Mitigate EUDR’s harmful impacts through implementation guidelines that adequately value the current, as well as developing local sustainable practices in agricultural value chains.
  • Avoid trade disruption including the excessive administrative burden related to the geolocation and traceability requirements, certifications, and customs procedures.

A total of seventeen nations have signed the letter – Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, and Thailand.

A similar letter was distributed to EU officials and the World Trade Organisation late last year. Thailand, Mexico and the Dominican Republic have added their names to the list. Thailand is commencing WTO negotiations with the EU next month; and Mexico’s agreement with the EU has hit an impasse.

It is clear that the pressure is mounting on Brussels from the biggest economies in Southeast Asia, the Americas and Africa. Their requests on transparency and the needs of their farmers are legitimate. But if the EU continues to ignore those concerns, its economic and diplomatic relations in countries such as Indonesia will decline further.