"We have invited 53 countries. As of today, 40 countries have confirmed their participation in the Indonesia-Africa Forum," Director of Africa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daniel Tumpal Simanjuntak noted in a press briefing here on Thursday.
Dozens of ministers from African countries and representatives from some international organizations, such as the African Union, and private sector players are also expected to take part in the IAF.
IAF will be a historical event, as it will be organized for the first time by the Indonesian government and will serve as a platform to forge stronger ties with African countries since the Southeast Asian country is eyeing Africa`s non-traditional market.
However, one of the main challenges to boost Indonesian and African economies is the tariff barriers, Simanjuntak pointed out.
Several African countries still impose high tariffs on Indonesian products.
Hence, the IAF is expected to serve as a platform for the participating countries to discuss tariff barriers.
One of the efforts to be undertaken by Indonesia to reduce tariffs is building cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States, a regional economic entity comprising 15 member countries in West Africa.
Meanwhile, Indonesia`s biggest trade partners in the Sub-Saharan Africa include Nigeria, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Benin, and Djibouti, while the biggest partners in North Africa are Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco.
Moreover, the forum is expected to serve as a platform for Indonesian and African stakeholders to discuss business deals.
Indonesia`s main exports to the African region are palm oil, processed foods and beverages, soaps, paper, garments, and motor vehicles, while its main imports from the region are crude oil, cotton, cacao kernel, pulp, chemical materials for fertilizers and industry, and tobacco.
Several issues to be highlighted during the IAF include those related to agriculture, strategic industry, strengthening economic diplomacy, digital economy, infrastructure, and connectivity.
Indonesia will also promote products of its strategic industries, such as a medium-range, twin-engine CN-235 transport aircraft produced by IPTN as one of its primary products in the African market.
Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi is expected to hold several bilateral meetings with participating African countries during the IAF.
A business forum and exhibitions of Indonesian products, among others, will also be held on the sidelines of the IAF.
Editor: Heru Purwanto
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