Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is eyeing to having better trade with Africa through the reduction of tariff barriers imposed by African countries, an official said here on Tuesday.

"The hindrance is the tariff issue since there has been no trade agreement. We are working on it," Indonesian Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita said here during the sidelines of the Indonesia-Africa Forum on Tuesday.

Lukita said that Indonesia-Africa`s cooperation has great potential to grow for there are many mutual commodities.

"In one hand they need strategic industry (products), but in other hand Indonesia also needs raw materials from them (African countries)," Lukita said.

Some 53 African countries are expected to attend the first Indonesia-Africa Forum (IAF) held in Bali on Apr 10 and 11.

Dozens of ministers from African countries, representatives from some international organizations, such as the African Union, and private sector players are also expected to take part in the IAF.

It 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.

Director of Africa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daniel Tumpal Simanjuntak said that the IAF is also 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 to build 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.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Tuesday has officially opened the IAF.

Kalla revealed the total value of Indonesia`s trade with Africa in 2017 reached US$8.85 billion. This value is increased by 15.49 percent compared to the previous year

As the second growing economy in the world, Africa has many hidden potential. Kalla even mentioned Wakanda, a fictional African nation and home to the superhero Black Panther, as a parable of how Africa has "hidden gems".

Still according to Kalla, Indonesia and Africa are also in the process of building massive infrastructure to boost the economy.

reporting by Dewa Wiguna
additional reporting by Fransiska Ninditya

Reporter: antara
Editor: Heru Purwanto
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