Indonesia proposes to Canada setting up OPEC-like group for nickel

President Jokowi officially inaugurates the G20 Summit. (Photo courtesy of PR of Cabinet Secretariat | Rahmat.)

Indonesia has proposed in talks with Canada establishing an OPEC-like organisation for nickel producing countries, the Southeast Asian nation’s investment ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Indonesia and Canada are the first and sixth biggest nickel producers in the world, respectively.

The proposal was made when Indonesian Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia met Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng on Tuesday on the sideline of the G20 summit in Bali.

The minister raised the prospect of trying to “coordinate and integrate nickel policy” like the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the group of 13 oil-producing nations that often determine global output, the statement said.

Bahlil previously raised the idea of such a grouping in an interview with the Financial Times last month, though at the time he said Indonesia was still formulating a structure and had yet to approach other nickel producers.

In Wednesday’s statement, Bahlil said a group of nickel producing countries could make sure that they get an optimal return from the electric vehicle (EV) industry, accusing countries where EVs are made of conducting protectionist trade policies.

“Through this collaboration, we hope that all nickel producing countries can benefit an evenly distributed value addition,” Bahlil said.

Ng said, in the statement, the two countries could explore such collaboration and that both shared a vision on optimising natural resources in a sustainable way.

Indonesia is keen to utilise its nickel reserves to attract investment into metal processing and further down in the supply chain, including producing EV batteries and manufacturing EVs in the country.

Since 2020, Jakarta has banned exports of unprocessed nickel ore to ensure sufficient supplies for investors, which include major metal companies from China, as well as South Korean companies.

Indonesia’s move to bar nickel ore export has sparked a trade dispute with the European Union. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is due to rule on the dispute in the current quarter, but Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said Jakarta has likely lost.

(By Bernadette Christina; Editing by Gayatri Suroyo and Ed Davies)


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