Jakarta — Indonesia has expressed its hopes that a free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and the European Union (EU) can boost small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and subdue a negative campaign against palm oil. Speaking during the 16th consultation of ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)- EU Trade Commissioner in Singapore on Friday (01/03), Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita highlighted the crucial role of SMEs and palm oil in Indonesia’s economy. “The FTA between ASEAN and EU must contain program that can boost SMEs. Points in the agreement must also help counter the negative campaign against palm oil,” he said to delegates in the meeting. Held on the sidelines of the 24th ASEAN AEM retreat and related meetings, the consultation aims to strengthen the foundations of cooperation between the two blocs. Enggartiasto also emphasized that the ASEAN and EU FTA required an appropriate and well-designed agreement framework considering the gap in preparedness and ambition between both economic groups. Trade between ASEAN and the EU rose by 9.1 percent year-on-year to 226.6 billion euro (US$279 billion) last year, according to EU statistics. The European bloc was the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in ASEAN with a value of 26.3 billion euro in 2016.