SAYING that it had been earnest desire since taking over in November 2014 to build a strong multi-direction ties with Pakistan, the Indonesia consul general in Karachi Hadi Santoso said he had a sense of pride to report that his dream had been fulfilled to a great extent, though a lot more remains to be done.
His effort had also been directed to develop these ties with Sindh with the help of stakeholders. Indonesia and Pakistan are gifted with tremendous resources and there is a great potential for cooperation in trade sector and what we need is to utilize that potential to the maximum.
Since the two are bonded together in fraternal and religious ties, it was only natural they build a strong edifice of relationship in as many fields as possible.
Santoso felt that there should be greater exchange of trade teams, individual visits by businessmen of the two countries for business to business meetings, joint ventures etc.
He said he and his colleagues at the diplomatic mission in Karachi were looking to organize familiarisation trips since 2009 with the help from tour operators, mediamen and the kind. Saying that liberalized visa regime had help raise the number of Pakistani going to his country, he thought that agreement could be reached between the two governments and national airlines to resume Indonesia airline Garuda services to Pakistan.
People to people contacts was a must and had seen growth with the coming of cultural delegations, and for promoting tourism to Bali and other centres in Indonesia.
Talking of economic relations, he said current trade volume between Indonesia had been constantly going up from 1.6. billion US dollars to 2.2. billion dollars in 2014, dropping a bit, and then rising by nearly 20 percent till March this year. This was however far below its potential and needed serious efforts from all to help it develop. New fields have been explored to help achieve that objective.
Emphasising that currently Indonesia and Pakistan are on the right track in discussing the possibility of implementing Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Under the treaty, Indonesia has agreed to offer market access to Pakistan on 232 tariff lines on preferential rate.
The list includes export products in the interest of Pakistan that are fresh fruits, cotton yarn, cotton fabrics, readymade garments, fans (ceiling, table, pedestal), sports goods (badminton and lawn tennis rackets), leather goods and other industrial products.
Indonesia has also offered market access to Pakistani Kinnow (mandarin) at 0%, which will provide a level playing field to this product in the Indonesian market.
Pakistan has offered Indonesia a total of 311 tariff lines for market access at preferential tariff. It lncludes edible palm oil products (crude oil, palm stearin, RBD palm oil, Palm Olein, crude oil of palm kernel), sugar confectionary, cocoa product, consumer goods (toothpaste, soap, deodorant), chemicals (polyacetals polycarbonates, sorbitol), tableware, kitchenware, rubber products, wood products, glassware products, and electronic products.
Pakistan’s economy being the second largest in the South Asia region after India is one of the emerging markets in the world and has strategic value to Indonesia.
Vice versa, Indonesia being an important member of ASEAN with the largest economy and a member of the G20 will be a good partner to enhance the two countries economic and trade relations in the Asia Pacific region.
He said that Pakistan is indeed a potential market for export diversification and enhancement of Indonesian on oil and gas products. Especially in commodities such as CPO, tea, paper, coal, spare parts, machinery, steel and chemical products which are the main imported commodities of Pakistan.
Moreover, once the security situation in Afghanistan is improved, Pakistan could serve as a corridor for Indonesian trade and economic cooperation with Afghanistan and Central Asia region. Indonesia has also emerged as Pakistan’s 4 th largest buyer in the ASEAN region around US$ 138 million comprising Cotton, Cereals, Raw hides and skins (other than furskins) and leather, Edible fruit, nuts, peel of citrus fruit, melons, Fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic, invertebrates nes, Tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes, Salt, sulphur, earth, stone, plaster, lime and cement, Copper and articles thereof, Meat, fish and seafood food preparations., Oil seed, oleagic fruits, grain, seed, fruit, etc, nes).
Indonesia is an attractive destination for trade and investment as it is the fourth most populous country in the world with the population of more than 257.6 million and with a GDP per capita of US$ 888.5 billion (data: World Bank 2014), said the head of the Indonesia diplomatic mission in Karachi.