Indonesia to intensify economic ties with Africa

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Political relations between Indonesia and Africa, in general, undoubtedly have been sound and close, particularly since Bandung hosted the Asia and Africa Conference for the first time in 1955.

The historical conference had contributed to the independence of several African and Asian countries, and since then, Indonesia and Africa have continued to support, assist, and communicate with each other.

Economic ties, however, need to be pushed further. Hence, the Indonesian government is committed to prioritizing its cooperation with African countries this year.

“Africa will become Indonesias priority in 2017. We will enhance our relations with Africa,” Director of African Affairs of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry Daniel Tumpal Simanjuntak stated recently.

To forge closer cooperation with African countries, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi had visited South Africa on Feb 6-7 and Mozambique on February 7-8, 2017.

Marsudi led a business delegation comprising representatives of state-owned companies and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

While in Cape Town, she met with South African President Jacob Zuma and Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

The two ministers co-chaired a meeting of Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation focusing on intensifying economic cooperation between both nations.

The value of bilateral trade clocked US$860 million during the January-October 2016 period.

Indonesias main export commodities to South Africa are motor vehicles, rubber, sandals, tires, and paper.

In 2016, South Africa had invested $981,500 in Indonesia, thereby bringing the total to $2.75 million during the 2011-2016 period, mostly in the hospitality industry.

“Africa is a region having huge potential, hence it is important for Indonesia to continue improving and expanding cooperation with countries in the continent, especially with South Africa,” she noted in a statement.

During her courtesy call on South African President Jacob Zuma, she presented an invitation to attend the high-level meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association to be held in Jakarta on March 7, 2017.

President Zuma expressed gratitude to the Indonesian government for giving priority to his country to strengthen economic diplomacy.

He emphasized the need for both governments to encourage businessmen and entrepreneurs of both nations to optimally take advantage of the available opportunities.

Meanwhile, during her visit in Mozambique, Minister Marsudi highlighted the economic reforms in Indonesia and offered several Indonesian industry products to Mozambique, such as railway carriages, since the latter is developing its railway transportation infrastructure.

“Businessmen from Indonesia and Mozambique should utilize all opportunities to revitalize trade and investment relations, which had weakened last year,” Minister Marsudi stated during an Indonesia-Mozambique business forum held in Maputo.

Railway carriages made in Indonesia are of good quality and have been exported to several countries, she informed some 50 Mozambique businessmen attending the forum.

“Indonesia is ready to support the railway transportation system being built by Mozambique,” the minister noted.

She also offered cooperation to process Mozambiques cotton products in Indonesian textile companies and expected to further enhance cooperation through the transfer of capacity and investment cooperation in the textile industry.

“Mozambique requires several strategic industry products, and I believe Indonesian companies are ready to cooperate,” Marsudi stated.

African enterprises showed interest in some products, such as the railway carriages of Indonesian state-owned train manufacturer PT. INKA and cargo ships of state-owned ship builder PT. PAL, as well as in tourism industry.

After visiting Africa, Marsudi went to Germany to participate in the first foreign ministers meeting of G20 in Bonn on February 16-17, 2017.

In her speech, the Indonesian minister brought up the issue on Africa as a common challenge.

Germany, which chairs the G20 this year, initiated the ministerial-level meeting focused on “maintaining peace in a complex world.”

The leaders shared a common view that international and multilateral cooperation are crucial for promoting peace, stability, and global welfare.

The G20 meeting in Bonn is expected to help boost the spirit of establishing multilateral cooperation to deal with common challenges.

Bilaterally and multilaterally, Indonesia has organized capacity building and training programs for several African nations keen to gain knowledge in the areas of agriculture, small and medium enterprises, women empowerment, and democratic practices, among others.

“Indonesias various steps and support will hopefully assist the African countries in their efforts to realize the African Agenda 2063,” she remarked.

The Indonesian government believes that multilateral cooperation through the framework of South-South and Triangular cooperation is crucial in providing support for African development.

Within this context, the minister underlined the success of various initiatives in the development cooperation with African countries, including through the New Asia Africa Strategic Partnership in 2005 and the Capacity Development Project with Japan.

International support for Africa is important to ensure development, security, and welfare processes in the continent. Within this context, the minister invited the members of the G20 to strengthen support and coordination with Africa, especially related to enhancing public-private partnership that is more transparent and effective, financing assistance, capacity building, and technical assistance programs.

“Closer cooperation between G20 and Africa will not only enhance common prosperity but will also contribute to global peace and stability,” she added.(*)

Source: Antara News