There is huge interest from European companies to export to and invest in Indonesia, especially given the growth of the Indonesian market. European companies present in Indonesia currently employ more than 1.1 million workers in the country.
Bilateral trade in merchandise (non-oil and gas) between the EU and Indonesia amounted to €25.1 billion in 2016, of which €14.6 billion was generated through Indonesian exports to the EU. In 2016, the EU represented the third biggest non-oil and gas export market for Indonesia, behind the United States and China. Indonesia's main exports to the EU are animal or vegetable fats and oils, machinery and appliances, textiles, footwear, plastics and rubber products. Crude Palm Oil exports are Indonesia's number one export commodity to the EU, representing 49% of all EU imports of Palm Oil. Indonesia currently benefits from trade preferences granted by the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences, under which about 30% of total imports from Indonesia enjoy lower duties. EU exports to Indonesia mainly consist of high-tech machinery, transport equipment, manufacturing goods, and chemicals. Total trade in services in 2015 amounted to €6.1 billion. In 2016, the EU was the fourth biggest source of FDI to Indonesia, representing 9% of the total FDI inflows, with a value of more than 2.3 billion euro, behind Singapore (31.7%), Japan (18.6%) and China (9.3%). EU FDI stock in Indonesia amounted to €30 billion in 2015, making Indonesia the EU second destination in ASEAN after Singapore.
However, given the size of the two partners, trade and investment levels are well below the volume that could be expected, in particular when considering that Indonesia is by far the largest economy in ASEAN. Negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, or the EU-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, were finally launched on 18 July 2016, after a successful scoping exercise. The third round of negotiations was held in Brussels on 11-15 September 2017. The ambition is to conclude a Free Trade Agreement that facilitates trade and investments by covering a broad range of issues, including tariffs, non-tariff barriers to trade, trade in services and investment, trade aspects of public procurement, competition rules, intellectual property rights as well as sustainable development.
The EU promotes sustainability in its trade relations with Indonesia, as illustrated in the forestry sector by the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed by the EU and Indonesia on 30 September 2013 to assure access of legal Indonesian timber exports to the EU market. After over ten years of negotiations, significant progress was achieved in 2016 towards the full activation of the VPA, which now recognises the Indonesian Timber Legality Assurance Scheme (SVLK) as fully meeting EU legal standards. On 15 November 2016, the first shipment of Indonesian certified woods departed to Europe, making Indonesia the very first tropical country reaching timber products licensing under FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade). The formal national launch of FLEGT licensing, took place in Jakarta on 24 November 2016. The first FLEGT License was issued in a ceremony on 28 November in Brussels, in the margins of the EU-Indonesia Joint Committee, by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi and European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella.