Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his happiness on receiving South African President Jacob Gedleyehlekisa Zuma, who visited the country after 12 years, at a joint press conference following the meeting between the two countries delegations here on Wednesday.
"Indonesia and South Africa are two emerging countries and members of G20 and have been working together under the South-South cooperation scheme," he stated.
Jokowi, as he is also called, stated that he hoped the partnership between the two countries, including new Asia-Africa strategic partnerships, could be more intensified. Therefore, the bilateral meeting focused on talks for more efforts to increase trade cooperation.
Jokowi has proposed a wider trade cooperation to cover Indonesia-South Africa Custom Union (SACU) cooperation and pledged to send a concerned minister to follow it up.
"I just now conveyed to Zuma that in the next two months from today, we would send ministers and business leaders to South Africa," he underlined.
As a follow up to the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) summit, he called for an Indonesia-Africa Countries Dialogue on future maritime cooperation and said he would invite South Africa to participate in it.
Jokowi also expressed appreciation to South Africa for its support to Indonesias chairmanship at IORA and pledged Indonesias support to South Africas IORA chairmanship for 2017-2019.
Three memorandums of understanding were signed during the meeting between the two countries delegations, including visa-free facility agreement for diplomatic and official passport holders, diplomatic training and education, and action plans for Indonesia-South Africa strategic cooperation for 2017-2021.
Indonesias trade minister Enggartiasto Lukito said, after accompanying the president to the meeting, that high tariff has so far been imposed on Indonesias commodities entering South Africa, because of the lack of trade cooperation till date.
"The tariffs vary depending on the commodities. Since there has been no agreement, they may impose high tariffs," he underlined.
In view of that, he pointed out that Indonesia and South Africa have agreed to increase trade through a free trade agreement to avoid high tariff being imposed on Indonesias commodities that enter South Africa.
"The problem is that they (South Africa) cannot make the decision by itself, as they are bound by SACU," he stresses.
He stated that South African government would first have a discussion with SACU on its trade cooperation agreement with Indonesia.
"The president has assigned the concerned ministers to follow it up in the next two years," he said.
Enggartiasto emphasized that trade between Indonesia and South Africa has reached US$262 million, with Indonesia enjoying a surplus of around $200 million.
"The commodities include palm oil, engines, and cars," he remarked.(*)