Indonesia seeks to enhance bilateral cooperation with Laos

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is seeking to enhance bilateral cooperation with the Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos during the visit of Foreign Minister of Laos Saleumxay Kommasith to Jakarta here on Thursday.

Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi received the visit of her Laotian counterpart at the Pancasila Building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta.

"This years meeting is particularly special. This year, Indonesia and Laos PDR celebrate their 60th year of diplomatic relations," Minister Marsudi stated.

The bilateral meeting focused on several issues, such as the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Indonesia-Laos bilateral relations, the plan of Laotian prime ministers visit to Indonesia, and economic and investment cooperation between the two countries.

During the visit, the Laotian foreign minister also chaired the fifth Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Indonesia and Laos focusing on bilateral cooperation in several sectors, such as politics, defense and security, economy and investment, education, transportation, tourism, and youth and sports.

In the fields of political, defense, and security cooperation, both countries discussed ways to strengthen cooperation for combating and preventing transnational organized crime, including illicit trafficking of drugs and terrorism.

"In the area of economic cooperation, we agreed that there was plenty of room for the two countries to greatly enhance trade investment and tourism cooperation," Marsudi noted.

The Laotian minister was scheduled to visit PT. Pupuk Kujang, a state-owned fertilizer company in Cikampek, West Java, as Indonesia is eyeing to import potassium from Laos.

As revealed by Director of Southeast Asia of the Ministry of Foreign Affair Denny Abdi, PT.Pupuk Kujang needs 70 tons of potassium every year.

Potassium was mostly imported from Canada and Russia whereas Laos offers an opportunity to import potassium at a 30 percent cheaper price, Abdi remarked.

Indonesia had imported 500 tons of potassium from Laos on a trial basis.

In the field of agriculture cooperation, both countries have agreed to cooperate to improve production capacity and stock and storage management as well as to promote industrialization of agricultural commodities.

"In terms of political and security cooperation, both of us have enjoyed a great cordial bond. The only thing that we need to do more in terms of bilateral cooperation is in the areas of economy, trade, and tourism," Minister Kommasith pointed out.

In terms of economic cooperation, the trade value between Indonesia and Laos had reached US$10.071 million in 2016.

Meanwhile, during the first quarter of 2017, trade volume between the two countries had reached $4.52 million.

Indonesia has also invested $1.1 million in Laos, in which Indonesian businessman Raam Punjabi is cooperating with a Thai enterprise to open a movie theater chain.

Indonesias state-owned oil company PT. Pertamina is also interested in the possibility of running a retail business in the energy sector with Laos, Minister Marsudi added.

During his visit to Indonesia on July 26-29, Minister Kommasith was also scheduled to visit a training center of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry to hold a dialog and site visit regarding bilateral cooperation in diplomatic training.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Laos, several activities will be held in both countries, such as cultural performances, seminars, photo exhibitions, trade and tourism fair, and film festival.(*)