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By Elizabeth Pisani
441 words
8 May 1991
Reuters News
(c) 1991 Reuters Limited

JAKARTA, May 8, Reuter - France, determined not to let Japan overrun Southeast Asian economies, will fight to promote investment in Indonesia and its neighbours, French industry minister Roger Fauroux said on Wednesday.

"We are determined not to leave free room just to Japan. It is not written anywhere that Japan has monopoly rights on Indonesia and I don't think Indonesia wants that," Fauroux told reporters.

At the end of a four-day visit to Indonesia Fauroux said France would fight for contracts in telecommunications, electricity generation and other infrastructural projects.

"We have perhaps too long neglected Indonesia and neighbouring countries. Now we have to catch up," Fauroux said.

He said French businesses recognized the daunting nature of the competition, particularly from Japan which poured 2.24 billion dollars into Indonesian investments in 1990.

"But (the competition) is normal, we accept it and are prepared to fight against it...It is in Indonesia's interests to diversify her suppliers."

Indonesian-French trade totalled a mere one billion dollars in calendar 1990, not even close to Japan's two-way total with Indonesia of 16 billion dollars.

Fauroux said France supplied three per cent of Indonesia's imports, while a quarter of the country's needs come from Japan.

He said France was keen to fulfill Jakarta's economic ministers' requests for more transfer of technology and expertise but insisted that Indonesia do more to stop its domestic industry ripping off ideas and products from abroad.

"The Indonesisan government has passed a law on copyright. Very good. We just ask that it be enforced energetically."

Stressing the potential for large infrastructural and public works projects, Fauroux said it was unlikely that French manufacturing firms would up stakes and move factories east to take advantage of Indonesia's cheap labour.

"We are not opposed to the transfer of manufacturing facilities but can't accelerate this process because it will be at the cost of European jobs."

Jakarta's leaders also appealed to Paris during Fauroux's visit to open up European markets to Indonesian products.

"It's a natural demand and we are open to it but we have to keep protecting some sectors while we make our own industries competitive," Fauroux said.

He said Europe would do well to give up trying to keep out imports in sectors such as cheap, low-fashion clothes where domestic industries cannot compete.

"There are some sectors we definitely can't compete in. I would like us to be generous to developing countries and not to stick to sectors we can't compete in."



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