Indonesia defends its curbs on nickel ore exports amid EU claim of breach in international trade – by Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja (Straits Times – August 3, 2023)

JAKARTA – Indonesia has stepped up its defence of its nickel ore export curbs the European Union has protested against, asserting its right to enhance value addition, boost its economy, and create job opportunities by climbing the value chain.

Indonesia claims it is doing what is necessary to develop its electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem, while the EU claims the nation rich in natural resources has breached rules by restricting international trade. South-east Asia’s largest economy, which was the world’s top exporter of nickel ore, introduced the ban on Jan 1, 2020.

Nickel is a key component in making efficient lithium-ion batteries, which are widely used in EVs, but is also crucial for a more traditional industry – stainless steel manufacture. Indonesia’s 2020 ban caused global nickel prices to soar, hitting the EU hard.

Indonesia’s “downstreaming” policy mandates that all the raw nickel extracted in the country must be processed domestically, enabling higher value-added export revenues and spurring the growth of the mineral smelting industry.

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